SPOTSYLVANIA COURTHOUSE, Va. (AP/WFLA/WRIC) — The family of a Black man shot by a Virginia sheriff’s deputy last week is demanding the release of additional audio recordings related to the incident.
Speaking at a news conference outside the Spotsylvania County Courthouse, an attorney for 32-year-old Isaiah Brown’s family said a breakdown in communication and “grave” policing errors led to the unarmed 32-year-old home health aide being shot multiple times.
Partial audio and some video was released last week showing Brown told a dispatcher he was unarmed. But it’s not clear whether the deputy who shot him knew that. The family says Brown remains in critical condition.
According to WRIC, Brown was shot several times by a deputy in the early morning hours of April 21. The deputy mistook the phone Brown was holding while talking to 911 dispatch for a gun.
CNN reports the deputy had given Brown a ride home from a gas station after responding to a call about a “disabled motorist.” He returned to Brown’s home about an hour later to respond to a “domestic incident.”
During a press conference Monday, the family’s attorney, David Haynes, said Brown’s condition is “touch and go.”
“Doctors informed the family that there were ten bullets inside Isaiah Brown’s body,” Haynes said. “Two were removed at the conclusion during the second trauma surgery. Eight remain in his body. He is on a breathing machine, currently, and the family has been informed that he remains in critical condition.”
Yolanda Brown, the victim’s sister, thanked the public for their prayers. She said she has many questions that she would like to have answered. She said she isn’t going to label the situation but said the country is divided right now and there are many minority groups who walk in fear.
“We don’t have any hate in our hearts or prejudice towards anyone,” Yolanda Brown said.
Jennifer Brown, the victim’s mother, said her only hope right now is that her son comes home alive.
During the press conference, Haynes said they are submitting a Freedom of Information Act request in order to obtain the full audio between dispatch and the deputy.
“We want full transparency in this matter,” Haynes said. “We want all information to come out.”
“Brown was unarmed,” Haynes reiterated. “It was a cordless phone. He was on that phone with 911. He obeyed all commands.”
Haynes said that the deputies, on the other hand, made “terrible, grave basic policing errors.”
“They did not wait for backup. They did not properly light the situation,’ Haynes said.
The family’s attorney said the deputies overreacted because of the communication error between dispatch and deputies.
“Isaiah Brown had made clear a full 90 seconds or more before the deputies arrived on scene that he was unarmed and did not have a weapon,” Haynes said.
Haynes said that this is an incident that should have never happened and Brown should be here today caring for elderly patients as he did while working at a nursing home.
Over the weekend, Haynes issued a statement saying the shooting was “completely avoidable.”
“In the 911 call, Isaiah clearly told dispatch that he did not have a weapon more than 90 seconds before the deputy arrived,” Haynes said. “He told dispatch that he was walking away from the house and away from anyone else and was on the roadway by himself.”
Haynes said that there was no indication that Brown was not complying with dispatch’s orders.
In the released 911 call, Brown is heard saying his brother is preventing him from getting his belongings and he can’t get to his car, which at the time was broken down. During the call he tells the dispatcher that he is going to kill his brother, the dispatcher then asks him why he would say that.
The dispatcher questions Brown as to whether or not he has a gun, he tells her he does not. Virginia State Police have also stated that Brown did not have a gun on him.
Brown then tells the dispatcher that he is walking down the street but remains on the line. When the deputy arrives, he can be heard yelling at Brown to “drop the gun.” The deputy then says “he’s got a gun to his head.” Brown is not visible at this point in the body cam footage.
“Stop walking towards me, stop walking towards me, stop, stop,” the deputy repeats. Shortly after that multiple shots ring out.
The deputy was out of his vehicle for less than 30 seconds before shots were fired. Brown was struck multiple times and the deputy administered aid.
According to Brown’s legal team, Brown is currently in critical condition in ICU at a Fredericksburg hospital.
The deputy who shot Brown is on administrative leave while Virginia State Police investigates.