Here’s the Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed by Brandon Tate-Brown’s Family

Family asks court to take charge of police reform efforts.

Tanya Dickerson, center, is flanked by Asa Khalif, left, and Brian Mildenberg, right, during a press conference on Thursday. Dickerson's son, Brandon Tate-Brown, was shot to death by police in December; DA Seth Williams announced earier in the day no charges would be filed in the death.

Tanya Brown-Dickerson, center, is flanked by Asa Khalif, left, and Brian Mildenberg, right, during a press conference in March. Dickerson’s son, Brandon Tate-Brown, was shot to death by police in December.

The family of Brandon Tate-Brown has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia — and is asking for a court to take control of the departmental reform efforts initiated by Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday with the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas seeks to be given class-action status, saying Tate-Brown’s December death after being pulled over by police is representative of broader training and oversight failures diagnosed by the Department of Justice in its March report on the department’s use-of-force practices.

“The deficiencies in PPD training found by the DOJ Report contributed to and were a substantial factor in the unlawful pullover, arrest, seizure, beating, and killing of Brandon Tate-Brown,” said the complaint filed by Brian Mildenberg, the attorney for Tate-Brown’s mother, Tanya Brown-Dickerson. (See the full complaint below.)

A Philadelphia Police spokesman referred inquiries to the city solicitor’s office. A call to that office was not immediately returned.

District Attorney Seth Williams announced in March there would be no charges against the two officers involved in shooting Tate-Brown, saying he could not prove that officers unreasonably believed that Tate-Brown was reaching for a gun in his car during a scuffle following the traffic stop. But Tate-Brown’s family disputes that story.

“The Police Department has maintained that Brandon Tate-Brown was shot by police while he was reaching into his vehicle for a gun,” Mildenberg said in a statement released to reporters. “To the contrary, video evidence reviewed by Ms. Brown-Dickerson at Internal Affairs, which has not been shown to the public, appears to show that Brandon was shot while running across the rear of his vehicle, from right to left, as he was near the right brake light of his vehicle, not reaching into the passenger side door for a gun.”

Mildenberg said he was seeking the release of all video evidence in the case. Reporters at Williams’ March announcement were shown a grainy, barely viewable copy of one video camera recording of the event, but were not given copies of that or recordings from other cameras on the scene.

“The investigation lacks all hallmarks of accuracy and integrity,” Mildenberg wrote in the complaint.

The Tate-Brown case has been a continuing problem for the city, coming as it has in the midst of a nationwide backlash against police-involved shootings of black men. A protest during a March town hall featuring the city’s top law enforcement officials turned briefly violent. And the filing of the lawsuit came amidst protests, peaceful and otherwise, in Baltimore over the death of a young man, Freddie Gray, who had been in police custody.

Mildenberg said Brown-Dickerson will answer questions about the lawsuit during a press conference at noon Wednesday.

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