Va. Deputy Indicted in Shooting of Unarmed Black Man After Allegedly Mistaking Phone For Gun
Isiah Brown, 32, was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher when the accused officer "recklessly shot him eight times," says Brown's attorney
A Virginia sheriff's deputy accused of firing on an unarmed Black man after the officer allegedly mistook a phone in the man's hand for a gun has been charged with a felony crime.
The victim, 32-year-old Isiah Brown, "did nothing wrong and was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher when [the deputy] recklessly shot him eight times," Brown's attorney David Haynes said in a statement shared with PEOPLE. He previously said Brown had been struck 10 times.
In the hours prior to the shooting that occurred after 3 a.m. on April 21, that same officer, identified in the indictment as Spotsylvania County Sheriff's deputy David Turbyfill, had given Brown a ride home from his stalled car, according to NBC News.
"The shooting resulted in significant injuries to Mr. Brown which will undoubtedly impact him for the rest of his life," Haynes said.
He added: "Isiah Brown's life was shattered and changed forever when he crossed paths with David Turbyfill. While this indictment doesn't take Mr. Brown's physical pain away, it does signify a measure of justice."
The grand jury indictment, a copy of which was obtained by PEOPLE, charges Turbyfill with "reckless handling of firearm resulting in serious injury," and alleges the deputy "did unlawfully and feloniously handle (a) firearm in a manner so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life."
An attorney for Turbyfill, Mark Bong, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment. Bong previously declined comment to CNN. It was not immediately clear if Turbyfill has entered a plea.
Haynes earlier accused the responding deputies of "terrible, grave basic policing errors" during the incident, which is documented by a 911 audio recording and officer-worn body camera footage released by the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office.
According to the 911 audio, Brown placed the call and told a dispatcher, "My brother won't let me get inside my mom's room." After the dispatcher replied, "OK but your car is broken down so why do you need your key?," the brothers are overheard arguing, with Brown saying, "Give me the gun."
As the brother refuses, Brown says to the dispatcher, "Can you send somebody down here?"
"What is going on, Isiah?," the dispatcher says. "Why don't you just – what is the problem?"
"I'm about to kill my brother," he says.
"Don't kill your brother," says the dispatcher. "Why would you say something like that?"
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"Somebody needs to come here real quick," Brown says.
"Do you understand that you just threatened to kill your brother on a recorded line, on 911?," the dispatcher says. "Why would you say something like that?"
"Because I need to get my sh--," Brown says.
The dispatcher asks Brown if he has a gun. He first answers yes, then "nope." While outside with his brother inside, Brown again repeats that he doesn't have any weapons on him as he begins to walk down the road.
"How are you walking down the road with the house phone?" the dispatcher asks.
"Because I can," Brown says.
As the sound of approaching sirens can be heard, the 911 dispatcher tells Brown to raise his hands. Then an arriving deputy shouts, "Show me your hands, drop the gun!"
Another voice is heard saying: "He's got a gun to his head."
"Drop the gun now!," shouts the first officer. "Stop walking towards me! Stop walking towards me! Stop! Stop."
Then shots are fired.
"Show me your hands, drop the gun, drop the gun!," the officer repeats. "Let go of the gun! Show me your hands now! Show me your hands now!"
Later, an officer is heard saying, "I killed a guy."
According to the 911 transcript, Brown's brother approaches while the officer is administering first aid to ask: "Does he still have the house phone?"
The deputy answers: "It's right here." Then, to Brown, the officer says: "Come on, man, stay with me." Finally, in the commotion of the first aid, and after promising "the hospital is coming," the deputy shouts, "Hey, where's the gun at? Where's the gun?"
In a video news release after the incident, Spotsylvania County Sheriff Roger Harris said: "During the encounter with an adult male the deputy discharged his firearm. Mr. Brown was struck by the gunfire. The deputy immediately rendered life-saving first aid." He said the deputy, who he did not initially name, was placed on administrative leave pending review of the shooting by the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
Haynes said Brown and his family were "pleased" with the indictment made public Thursday.
But he called for the deputy's "immediate termination," while also asking for the release of "all audio communication between the deputy and dispatch, all video from the scene as well as Turbyfill's employment records and personnel file."
If convicted on the felony charge, Turbyfill faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, according to the indictment.