25, April 2021
An unarmed Black man was shot by a Virginia sheriff’s deputy who mistook his cordless house phone for a gun, according to authorities who late on Friday released the body camera footage of the incident.
Isaiah Brown, 32, called 911 over a dispute with his brother. The same deputy, who gave him a ride home after his car had broken down, responded to the call made on Wednesday.
Brown was holding the cordless house phone when he was shot by the deputy six times in the abdomen, according to authorities and the footage.
He called 911 to say his brother would not allow him to enter into his mother’s room to retrieve his car keys, according to the audio recording. Brown then says he will kill his brother.
Several minutes into the call, he says he is walking down the road with his house phone, but adds he does not have a gun.
However, in the recordings of the incident, the deputy states that Brown has a “gun to his head.” The deputy demands to see Brown’s hands and drop the gun.
The officer then screams “stop!, stop!” before opening fire. After the shots, the deputy again asks Brown to show his hands and drop the gun.
The officer then begins to perform “live saving measures” on the black man, seen in the video lying in the street.
A spokesperson for the Virginia State Police told CNN that Brown was unarmed at the time of the incident.
“After viewing the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s deputy’s bodycam video and listening to the 911 call, it is evident that the tragic shooting of Isaiah Brown was completely avoidable,” David Haynes, an attorney for Brown’s family, said in a statement.
“The deputy in question made multiple, basic policing errors and violated established protocols,” Haynes said. “The deputy was situated nearly 50 feet from Isaiah, was never threatened and should not have discharged his weapon.”
“Isaiah is now fighting for his life as a result of these completely avoidable errors by the deputy and dispatch,” Haynes said.
The shooting of Brown comes at a time when law enforcement agencies are under increased scrutiny following fatal shootings of African Americans, including 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio, and Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
Fatal attacks on people of color in the US have witnessed a disconcerting surge in recent years, which activists have attributed to former president Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric.