Marchers brave snow, cold to protest death of Brandon Tate-Brown, demand video

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Marchers protest the December shooting of Brandon Tate-Brown, outside 2nd and 15th District police headquarters in Philadelphia. The group demanded to view surveillance footage.

Protesters marched through Mayfair on Saturday and demanded to see surveillance video footage from the December shooting of Brandon Tate-Brown, which his mother said contradicted the police account of his death.

Video footage shows that Tate-Brown was running away from police officers when he was shot, according to his mother, Tanya Brown-Dickerson, and her attorney. Their account differs from police statements that Tate-Brown was shot after he tried to retrieve a gun from inside his car Dec. 15.

"How I feel is even more hurt [than] the day I found out my son was killed," his mother said Saturday. Tate-Brown was 26.

Brown-Dickerson and her attorney saw the video on Thursday, one day after learning that the two officers involved had been cleared of wrongdoing by the Police Department and returned to street duty several weeks ago.

About 100 protesters gathered Saturday afternoon on Frankford Avenue, where Tate-Brown was killed. The group, demanding to view the surveillance footage and learn the identities of the officers involved, marched through snow-covered streets to the police 2nd and 15th District headquarters.

They carried signs, including a cardboard coffin with a sign saying "Who killed Brandon Tate Brown" and a banner that read "Release the tape."

Dickerson-Brown urged police to release other evidence about the shooting.

Brian Mildenberg, her attorney, said Saturday that Tate-Brown's headlights and turn signal were on when police stopped him that night, despite police statements that he was pulled over because his car headlights were off. Mildenberg said video footage also showed Tate-Brown running away from police across Frankford Avenue when he was shot in the back of the head.

"We're not telling people that it's OK to run away from police officers," Mildenberg said. "You have to comply with the police officer. That really isn't the point here, but the police officer is not allowed to just shoot a person because that person is running away from them if that person is unarmed."

Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey could not be reached for comment Saturday. A Police Department spokeswoman confirmed that Ramsey allowed Tate-Brown's mother to view the video footage, and said the case had been turned over to the District Attorney's Office for review.

Ramsey said last week that the video footage, which was "not very high quality," was consistent with information from two civilian witnesses and the officers' account of the encounter.

The initial police account of the incident in the 6600 block of Frankford Avenue included the two officers saying they saw a handgun in the car and ordered Tate-Brown to step out of the car. A struggle began, according to police.

Mildenberg said the grainy video footage of the traffic stop, struggle, and shooting, lasting about 10 or 15 minutes, showed that those involved ran back and forth across Frankford Avenue.

The Police Department said Tate-Brown tried to retrieve the handgun from the passenger side of the car.

While Tate-Brown may have been on the passenger side of the car at one point during the struggle, Mildenberg said, the video showed him standing unarmed at the back of his car when he was killed.

One of the officers shot Tate-Brown in the head and he was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Police Department. Police later said the gun in his car had been reported stolen.

Mildenberg said he was not preparing a lawsuit against the police. He said the family was calling for the police to release the video to the public, and to retract statements that Tate-Brown was shot because he reached for his gun.

On Saturday, Brown-Dickerson said her heart was broken over her son's death.

"I saw him scrambling and running around like a little child running from a beating. ... I didn't see my son's hands punching at anybody. I saw fear."

Brown-Dickerson joined marchers on foot, chanting "No justice, no peace, no racist police," and "Justice for Brandon Brown."

As the crowd reached the 2nd and 15th District headquarters in Mayfair, about 30 uniformed police officers lined up outside and listened silently to the protest. When one protester began to curse at the officers, Brown-Dickerson took the megaphone and asked the crowd to remain peaceful.

"The bottom line is: We the people, along with the good cops, can get rid of the bad cops," she said.

An advocacy group, the Philly Coalition for Racial, Economic and Legal Justice, has joined the family in demanding answers about the case and that police release the surveillance video. The group was formed in response to the police-involved deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City.

Tony Soto, a friend of Tate-Brown's, said he would continue to demand answers.

"We will keep marching," he said, "[in] rain, sleet, hail, and snow, until we get justice for Brandon Tate-Brown."

 


lmccrystal@phillynews.com

610-313-8116 @Lmccrystal

 

Inquirer staff writer Aubrey Whelan contributed to this article.