(UPDATED) Lawyer to Seth Williams: Reopen Brandon Tate-Brown Investigation
Updated with response from D.A. Seth Williams.
The lawyer representing the family of Brandon Tate-Brown called on District Attorney William to reopen the criminal investigation into circumstances surrounding Tate-Brown’s December shooting by police.
Brian Mildenberg said video released by City Hall last week showed that Tate-Brown had been shot near the rear of his car — and not, as police contended for months, at the passenger door of the car, reaching in for a gun.
“That. Was. Never. True.” Mildenberg said at a noon press conference outside City Hall.
Tate-Brown, 26, died early December 15th after two officers stopped him on Frankford Avenue, near Magee Street, for driving without headlights. Officials say 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, they said, when he broke away from officers and tried to reach into the car, apparently for the gun. D.A. Seth Williams in March announced he would not file criminal charges against the officers in the case.
On Monday afternoon, Williams reaffirmed that stance.
“The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office conducted a thorough investigation into the shooting death of Brandon Tate-Brown and the evidence showed – evidence that was corroborated by physical evidence and officer and witness testimony alike – that Brandon Tate-Brown had a gun in the car with his DNA on it, tried to get it on more than one occasion and was shot because he put two Philadelphia Police Officers and everyone else who was at the scene that evening in danger,” Williams said in a written statement released to the media.
“Like I have said before, my sympathies go out to the Tate-Brown family, but I stand by my decision to not file charges against the officers and have no plans to re-open the investigation because what happened was tragic, but not criminal.”
Mildenberg also called on Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey to remove from street duty the two officers involved in Tate-Brown’s shooting — Nicholas Carrelli and Heng Dang — saying the video similarly cast doubt on their credibility.
“We want the murdering killer cops off the street today,” said Asa Khalif, a cousin to Tate-Brown and a local activist in his own right, to the gathering. “We want the murdering pigs off the street today.”
Asked why Williams might reopen the case when he’d presumably seen the evidence at hand, Mildenberg said: “We’re going to take this step-by-step, incrementally. If we’re refused, we’ll take it from there.”
The incident has given local impetus to #BlackLivesMatter protests, leading to a melee at a Town Hall meeting in March, the same night of Williams’ announcement.
“It’s an outrage that this family … has had to endure what they have for the last six months,” said Rev. Mark Tyler, pastor at Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church and a member of the POWER activist coalition, calling on federal officials to take a more direct role in reforming the police department. “We don’t trust that the city will get this right on their own.”
Tanya Brown-Dickerson, Tate-Brown’s mother, said the video showed what she long believed to be true about the case: That her son was not trying to get a gun when he died. “He would not have taken a chance to go to jail or be killed,” she said. “He was happy with his life.”
A civil case filed by Brown-Dickerson remains pending before the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
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