Virginia Officer Shoots Black Man 10 Times After Allegedly Mistaking Phone He Was Holding for Gun
A 32-year-old Virginia man is "fighting for his life" after a sheriff's deputy allegedly mistook the cordless landline phone in his hand during a 911 call for a gun and opened fire, shooting him 10 times, according to the man's attorney.
The Black victim, Isaiah Brown, "was unarmed," the attorney, David Haynes, said at a news conference Monday, reports Richmond TV station WRIC. "It was a cordless phone. He was on that phone with 911. He obeyed all commands."
Haynes accused the responding deputies of "terrible, grave basic policing errors" during the early Wednesday morning incident, which is documented by a 911 audio recording and officer-worn body camera footage released Friday by the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office.
In a video news release, Sheriff Roger Harris said the unidentified officer has been placed on administrative leave pending review of the shooting by the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations. In his brief description of the incident, he 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."
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Earlier, Brown had received a ride home from his stalled car by the same officer who later shot him, reports NBC News. But later, at 3:19 a.m., deputies were dispatched to the address for what the sheriff described as a domestic disturbance.
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 Isaiah saying, "Give me the gun."
As the brother refuses, Isaiah says to the dispatcher, "Can you send somebody down here?"
"What is going on, Isaiah?," 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?"
"Somebody needs to come here real quick," Isaiah 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--," Isaiah says.
The dispatcher asks Isaiah if he has a gun. He first answers yes, then "nope." While outside with his brother inside, Isaiah 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," Isaiah says.
With sirens approaching, the 911 dispatcher tells Isaiah 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, the deputy says, "I killed a guy."
According to the 911 transcript, Isaiah'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 Isaiah, 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?"
At Monday's news conference, the Brown family attorney said: "Doctors informed the family that there were 10 bullets inside Isaiah Brown's body. 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."
In a previous statement shared with PEOPLE, the attorney said: "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."
He added: "The deputy was situated nearly 50 feet from Isaiah, was never threatened and should not have discharged his weapon."
On Monday Haynes said: "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."
Virginia State Police have also confirmed that Brown was unarmed at the time of the shooting, reports WRIC.
The victim's family is calling for the release of complete audio and video of the incident.