D.A.: No Charges in Tate-Brown Shooting
No charges will be brought against the officers who shot Brandon Tate-Brown, District Attorney Seth Williams said today at a midday press conference.
“In this case the facts show a tragedy. A terrible tragedy. But not a crime,” Williams said.
Williams said he could not remember ever making a public announcement that charges would not be brought against officers in a police-involved shooting, but that processes in Ferguson and Staten Island — where grand juries decided not to bring charges against officers in deadly encounters — had not served the public trust.
Still, Williams was careful not to inflame a situation that has generated anger and protests in the community since Tate-Brown’s December death. He was joined by members of the clergy, as well Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison.
“I am not here to demonize Brandon Tate-Brown,” Williams said. “But neither am I here to demonize the police officers” involved in the case. Neither officer was identified.
Williams said he spoke about his decision with Tate-Brown’s mother on Thursday morning, prior to the press conference.
Tate-Brown, 26, died early December 15th after two officers stopped him on Frankford Avenue, near Magee Street. Video evidence showed his car had daytime running lights on, but not the nighttime headlights, at the time of the stop. Williams said one officer saw a gun in the car’s middle console; Tate-Brown was asked to step from the car and a struggle ensued. Tate-Brown was shot, Williams said, when he broke away from officers and tried to reach into the car, apparently for the gun.
This is where Tate-Brown's gun was. pic.twitter.com/71WAjwBLiE
— Joel Mathis (@joelmmathis) March 19, 2015
Williams said he could not prove that officers did not have a reasonable belief that they were in danger at that moment. The law says officers are criminally liable for shootings only if it can be shown they were not reasonably in fear for their own lives.
“I could not in good conscience bring charges or prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer was not reasonable,” Williams said, later adding: “The was not the case of an unarmed man running away from his vehicle being executed by police.”
He provided grainy video showing, dimly, a struggle between the officers and Tate-Brown. (He showed the video but would not make it available to the media for publication.) Williams said three different witnesses confirmed the account.
“Then the driver broke loose and ran back to his car, but the cops jumped on him and pulled him back out of the car,” an unnamed witness said. “That’s when I got up and walked around the corner … Because I thought when the guy went back to his car, he got a gun.”
Williams said he was “satisfied” that the investigation had been independently run, but acknowledged that some people would not be satisfied with his determination. Police and prosecutors had been heavily criticized since the shooting for a lack of transparency in the case.
“We’re not,” he said, “going to be able to answer everybody’s questions.”
The presentation of the investigation is below.
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