Brandon Tate-Brown, case update of 3/1/2015

March 1, 2015

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

IN RE: BRANDON TATE-BROWN, deceased

 

CONTENTS:

 

  • EVIDENCE REVIEWED AT INTERNAL AFFAIRS UNDER PROTEST BY TANYA DICKERSON AND HER ATTORNEY DUE TO POLICE DEPARTMENT DECISION TO BAR USE OF PEN OR PAPER TO TAKE NOTES REGARDING THE STATEMENTS, CONSISTENT WITH THE DEPARTMENT’S LACK OF TRANSPARENCY AND SECRECY CONCERNING THIS INCIDENT.

 

  • WITNESS STATEMENTS REVEAL THAT ARRESTING POLICE OFFICER ON SCENE STATED THAT HE PULLED OVER BRANDON TATE-BROWN FOR HIS VEHICLE MATCHING THE DESCRIPTION OF A VEHICLE INVOLVED IN AN EARLIER INCIDENT, NOT BECAUSE HIS HEADLIGHTS LIGHTS WERE NOT TURNED ON.

 

  • POLICE OFFICER CLAIMED IN HIS WRITTEN STATEMENT THAT HE PULLED BRANDON OVER FOR HEADLIGHTS BEING OFF; CLAIMED THAT ONLY DAYTIME RUNNING LIGHTS WERE ON: SAID NOTHING ABOUT CAR MATCHING EARLIER DESCRIPTION. THESE DISCREPANCIES SUPPORT A CLAIM THAT BRANDON WAS PULLED OVER AS A RESULT OF INAPPROPRIATE PROFILING, AND FOR NO GOOD REASON. HE WAS A YOUNG AFRICAN-AMERICAN MALE DRIVING A BRAND NEW, LUXURY VEHICLE.

 

  • ONCE PULLED OVER, BRANDON ADVISED POLICE OFFICERS THAT HE WORKED AT HERTZ RENTAL CAR, AND WAS USING THE CAR WITH MANAGER’S PERMISSION.

 

  • POLICE OFFICERS THEN RAN PLATES. PLATES CAME BACK OWNED BY DOLLAR RENTAL CAR, NOT HERTZ. BECAUSE OF THIS ALLEGED INCONSISTENCY, OFFICERS THEN REQUESTED BRANDON TO STEP OUT OF THE VEHICLE. OFFICERS DID NOT REALIZE THAT DOLLAR RENTAL CAR IS A WHOLLY OWNED CORPORATE SUBSIDIARY OF THE HERTZ CORPORATION.   HERTZ ACQUIRED DOLLAR IN NOVEMBER, 2012.   THERE WAS IN FACT NO INCONSISTENCY.

 

  • NO WITNESSES SAW BRANDON WITH A GUN OR HEARD BRANDON ADMIT TO HAVING A GUN. ONE WITNESS CLAIMED TO HEAR POLICE, WHILE POINTING A GUN AT BRANDON’S BACK, DEMAND TO KNOW WHERE THE GUN WAS, AND HEARD BRANDON DENY HAVING THE GUN ON HIM.

 

  • WITNESSES REFERRED TO A SHINY METALLIC OBJECT THAT BRANDON WAS CARRYING. IT HAS BEEN SUGGESTED THAT THIS COULD HAVE BEEN A GUN. IN FACT, THIS WAS BRANDON’S CELLULAR PHONE, NOT A GUN. THE GUN THAT THE POLICE ALLEGEDLY FOUND WAS NEVER CLAIMED BY THE POLICE TO HAVE BEEN ON BRANDON’S PERSON, BUT ONLY CLAIMED TO HAVE BEEN FOUND IN THE VEHICLE AFTER BRANDON WAS SHOT. PRESENCE OF THE CELL PHONE IS CONFIRMED BY EMERGENCY MEDICAL RESPONDER.

 

  • THE MEDICAL EXAMINER AUTOPSY RESULTS DESCRIBE, IN ADDITION TO THE GUNSHOT WOUNDS, SEVERAL “BLUNT IMPACT WOUNDS” TO THE FACE. MEDICAL EXAMINER TOXICOLOGY REPORT ALSO CONFIRMS BRANDON WAS NEGATIVE FOR DRUGS AT TIME. TOXICOLOGY REPORT IS ATTACHED.

 

  • EARLIER POLICE CLAIMS TO THE PUBLIC THAT OFFICERS SAW A GUN UPON INITIALLY APPROACHING THE VEHICLE ARE UNSUPPORTED BY THE OFFICER’S STATEMENTS

 

  • FAMILY RENEWS CLAIM FOR POLICE TO RELEASE ALL VIDEOS AND STATEMENTS TO THE PUBLIC

 

DETAILS:

 

  • EVIDENCE REVIEWED AT INTERNAL AFFAIRS UNDER PROTEST BY TANYA DICKERSON AND HER ATTORNEY DUE TO POLICE DEPARTMENT DECISION TO BAR USE OF PEN OR PAPER TO TAKE NOTES REGARDING THE STATEMENTS, CONSISTENT WITH THE DEPARTMENT’S LACK OF TRANSPARENCY AND SECRECY CONCERNING THIS INCIDENT.

 

On Friday, February 27, 2015, Ms. Tanya Dickerson, mother of Brandon Tate-Brown, and I, her counsel, Brian Mildenberg, Esquire, attended a meeting at the Philadelphia Police Internal Affairs Bureau on Dungun Road, in Northeast Philadelphia. The purpose of the meeting was for the police department to allow us to review additional evidence, in the form of eyewitness and police officer statements, in the Brandon Tate-Brown shooting case.

 

Unfortunately, the police department, allegedly in consultation with their legal counsel, would not allow us to take any notes, use a pen or pencil, or a notepad, concerning the interviews. The interviews were presented for reading only. I protested that it was unheard of that an attorney not be allowed his legal pad and pen to take notes, and that this was a restriction on my ability to provide legal representation.

 

We were told that we had to either read them all in one sitting, without notes, or not read them at all. If we left the room to take notes after reading only one statement, we would not be allowed back. This was our only chance. These were the ground rules that we had to accept in order to read the statements. Ultimately, we advised that we would read the statements, and do so without taking notes, but only under protest, and that we would advocate for the ability to read them again, attorney’s notebook and pen in hand.

 

Telling a lawyer he or she cannot use a legal pad is like telling a journalist he or she cannot use a pen, or telling a surgeon he or she cannot use a scalpel. Attorney notes, which are unquestionably subject to confidentiality and legal privilege as attorney work product and mental impressions, are essential for the appropriate provision of legal advice and services, and are part of the basic tools attorneys use to practice their trade. Barring counsel from taking notes, making the attorney’s job more difficult, is, frankly, not in accordance with the values and freedoms of our democracy and a citizen’s right to be represented by counsel when dealing with the government, in this case the police. The Philadelphia Police Department attempted to handicap or limit my ability to engage in my profession as an attorney by refusing me the professional courtesy of taking notes after reading each statement. On behalf of Ms. Dickerson, we respectfully demand that we be allowed to read the statements again and take such notes as are deemed appropriate by us. This is Philadelphia, the birthplace of freedom and democracy, not a police dictatorship. One of our most cherished traditions is the right of redress against he government, including the right to an attorney. The Philadelphia Police Department has acted to limit Ms. Dickerson’s right to counsel by barring her attorney from taking notes on evidence presented for review.

 

  • WITNESS STATEMENTS REVEAL THAT ARRESTING POLICE OFFICER ON SCENE STATED THAT HE PULLED OVER BRANDON TATE-BROWN FOR HIS VEHICLE MATCHING THE DESCRIPTION OF A VEHICLE INVOLVED IN AN EARLIER INCIDENT, NOT BECAUSE HIS HEADLIGHTS LIGHTS WERE NOT TURNED ON.

 

We learned new information by reviewing the police officer and witness statements, and we uncovered further inconsistencies in the Police Department’s official story as to why Brandon Tate-Brown was pulled over, asked to exit his vehicle, and then shot once in the head.

 

First, we learned that, during the time where there was a struggle between Brandon and the police officers, a “good Samaritan,” who appears to be an off duty law enforcement or security officer (we don’t know for sure because the Police Department redacted the part of the statement where the witness identifies his profession), was driving by the scene on Frankford Avenue with a female friend in his vehicle. Upon arriving at the scene, he noticed the struggle, and decided, against his female friend’s urging not to leave the car, to exit the vehicle to provide assistance to the officers. He noted that he was armed with a handgun and claims that he placed his handgun in the back of his vehicle because he did not want to go outside the vehicle with his gun and get drawn into shooting or get shot due to adrenaline or the course of events. He exited the vehicle and ran towards the struggle. At that time, Brandon escaped the grip of the officers and ran back towards Brandon’s vehicle, at which point he was shot by one of the officers. Ms. Dickerson and counsel maintain that the video of the incident appears to show that Brandon was shot from behind, and dropped down, as he ran away from the officers and had reached the rear of his vehicle, and that, contrary to police claims, he was not reaching for a gun when he was shot. The Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission has released a revised statement, after viewing the video, clarifying that the video does not show Brandon reaching for a gun.

 

Most significant about this intervening witness is not what he claims he saw or heard concerning the struggle, but what he claims occurred after Brandon was shot by a police officer. This witness, who had jumped out of his car to help police, states in his written interview conducted the morning of the shooting, that after the shooting, the police officer came up to him and told him that he had pulled Brandon over because his vehicle matched a description of a vehicle from an earlier incident, not because Brandon’s headlights were out, contrary to the official police version of events. This is the very first time we have heard the police officer’s apparently true reason for pulling Brandon over. The true reason, according to this eyewitness, who is reporting what the police officer stated to him immediately after the event, was that Brandon’s car allegedly matched the description of a vehicle involved in an earlier incident.

 

  • POLICE OFFICER CLAIMED IN HIS WRITTEN STATEMENT THAT HE PULLED BRANDON OVER FOR HEADLIGHTS BEING OFF; CLAIMED THAT ONLY DAYTIME RUNNING LIGHTS WERE ON: SAID NOTHING ABOUT CAR MATCHING EARLIER DESCRIPTION. THESE DISCREPANCIES SUPPORT A CLAIM THAT BRANDON WAS PULLED OVER AS A RESULT OF INAPPROPRIATE PROFILING, AND FOR NO GOOD REASON. HE WAS A YOUNG AFRICAN-AMERICAN DRIVING A BRAND NEW, LUXURY VEHICLE.

 

In the police officer’s interview, the police officer claimed, as we know, that he pulled Brandon over because his headlights were not on. The police officer claimed that he noticed the headlights were not on and thought perhaps that Brandon was driving by accident with only his daytime running lights on. The police officer claims that his initial intention was just to pull him over, tell him to turn his lights on, and make sure he was ok. However, this is contrary to the testimony of the “good Samaritan” witness, who stated that immediately after the shooting, the officer came up to him and told him that the reason Brandon was pulled over was because he matched the description of an earlier vehicle involved in an incident. In other words, Brandon was a young, African American male, driving a brand new, luxury vehicle, a 2014 White Dodge Charger. We challenge the police to provide information about the alleged previous incident that night involving a vehicle that matched the description. The police story has changed so many times that, on behalf of Ms. Dickerson, we now believe that Brandon was pulled over for no good reason at all, and never should have been pulled over in the first place. The story about the headlights being out simply is not supported, because the police officer told the intervening witness that Brandon was pulled over for matching a vehicle they were on the lookout for regarding an earlier incident.

 

  • ONCE PULLED OVER, BRANDON ADVISED POLICE OFFICERS THAT HE WORKED AT HERTZ RENTAL CAR, AND WAS USING THE CAR WITH MANAGER’S PERMISSION.

 

Next, once Brandon was pulled over, according to the police officer’s interview, they approached him and spoke to him and he advised that he worked at Hertz Rental Car and was using the vehicle with his manager’s permission. The police officers then went back and ran Brandon’s license plates.

 

  • POLICE OFFICERS THEN RAN PLATES. PLATES CAME BACK OWNED BY DOLLAR RENTAL CAR, NOT HERTZ. BECAUSE OF THIS ALLEGED INCONSISTENCY, OFFICERS THEN REQUESTED BRANDON TO STEP OUT OF THE VEHICLE. OFFICERS DID NOT REALIZE THAT DOLLAR RENTAL CAR IS A WHOLLY OWNED SUBSIDIARY OF THE HERTZ CORPORATION.   HERTZ ACQUIRED DOLLAR IN NOVEMBER, 2012.   THERE WAS IN FACT NO INCONSISTENCY.

 

When the police officers ran the license plates, the plates came back being registered to Dollar Rental Car, not Hertz. Because of this, according to the police officers, they decided to order Brandon to step out of the vehicle. However, already having been pulled over for no credible reason, the unfair traffic stop continued, and undue suspicion was raised against Brandon, because the police were not aware that Dollar Rental Car is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Hertz Corporation, which was acquired by Hertz in November, 2012. See http://www.dollar.com/AboutUs/Background.aspx (accessed March 1, 2015). In fact, “Hertz Holdings, through its subsidiary The Hertz Corporation (“Hertz”) operates its car rental business through the Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty brands….” Id. Therefore, the fact that Brandon advised he was employed by Hertz, but the rental car came up registered to Dollar, should not have been a basis to request that this young man exit his vehicle. In fact, he never should have been pulled over to begin with, let alone be ordered to exit the vehicle.

 

  • NO WITNESSES SAW BRANDON WITH A GUN OR HEARD BRANDON ADMIT TO HAVING A GUN. ONE WITNESS CLAIMED TO HEAR POLICE, WHILE POINTING A GUN AT BRANDON’S BACK, DEMAND TO KNOW WHERE THE GUN WAS, AND HEARD BRANDON DENY HAVING THE GUN ON HIM.

 

Witnesses did not see Brandon carrying a gun or hear Brandon admit to having a gun, contrary to reports of others who have seen the statements. The closest a witness came to providing information supporting an inference that Brandon admitted to a gun was that one witness stated he overheard police, after Brandon complied and exited the vehicle, and during a time where a police officer had his gun drawn and was pointing it at Brandon’s back, asking Brandon to tell them whether he had a gun and where it was. This witness overheard Brandon deny that he had the gun on him. This has been misinterpreted and reported as Brandon admitted to having a gun, but just not on him. This is not what the witness reported.

 

  • WITNESSES REFERRED TO A SHINY METALLIC OBJECT THAT BRANDON WAS CARRYING. IT HAS BEEN SUGGESTED THAT THIS COULD HAVE BEEN A GUN. IN FACT, THIS WAS BRANDON’S CELLULAR PHONE, NOT A GUN. THE GUN THAT THE POLICE ALLEGEDLY FOUND WAS NEVER CLAIMED BY THE POLICE TO HAVE BEEN ON BRANDON’S PERSON, BUT ONLY CLAIMED TO HAVE BEEN FOUND IN THE VEHICLE AFTER BRANDON WAS SHOT. PRESENCE OF THE CELL PHONE IS CONFIRMED BY EMERGENCY MEDICAL RESPONDER.

 

Witnesses also referred to a shiny metallic object that Brandon appeared to be holding. This was nothing more or less than his cellular phone. In the video from the 7-11 convenience store Brandon entered prior to the shooting, he is seen carrying his cell phone in his hand, with his earpiece wires going up his shirt, up to his ears. Brandon’s mother explains that Brandon had a cell phone holder on his waistband, where he could clip the phone. It appears that during the police encounter Brandon was holding his cell phone and had reached down to clip it to his belt. This is where the story that he “reached for his waistband” appears to emanate. The presence of Brandon’s cell phone on his person is further confirmed by the emergency medical responder, who confirms that, as they were providing emergency services, his cell phone kept ringing. The shiny metallic object on Brandon’s person and near his waist that witnesses thought could have been a gun was nothing more than his cell phone. Even the police, in all of their changing versions of the story, have never stated that Brandon had a gun on his person; rather, they claim that the gun was in the car, where it was allegedly found, after the shooting, lodged between the passenger seat and the center console.

 

  • THE MEDICAL EXAMINER AUTOPSY RESULTS DESCRIBE, IN ADDITION TO THE GUNSHOT WOUNDS, SEVERAL “BLUNT IMPACT WOUNDS” TO THE FACE. MEDICAL EXAMINER TOXICOLOGY REPORT ALSO CONFIRMS BRANDON WAS NEGATIVE FOR DRUGS AT TIME.

 

We also have new information concerning the autopsy results performed by the medical examiner. The medical examiner reported that, in addition to the gunshot wound, Brandon had three (3) Blunt Impact Wounds to the face. One was on the left forehead above the eyebrow measuring 2” x 0.5”. The second was on the left side of the face, measuring 1” x 2”. The third was on the left side of the face on the cheek and overlying the mandible, and measured 1” x 3”. The medical examiner stated that there were no underlying hemorrhage in the wrist and reported no injuries to his hands, with the exception to the fingernail of the first digit of the left hand, which fingernail was broken. Other than the gunshot wound, and gunshot associated wounds to the head, skull, and brain, the 3 Blunt Impact Wounds to the face, and the broken fingernail, the Medical Examiner found no other injuries. Toxicology results were negative for drugs.

 

  • EARLIER POLICE CLAIMS TO THE PUBLIC THAT OFFICERS SAW A GUN UPON INITIALLY APPROACHING THE VEHICLE ARE UNSUPPORTED BY THE OFFICER’S STATEMENTS

 

Contrary to prior claims by the police that the officers saw the gun upon approaching the vehicle and then asked Brandon to step out of the car, in fact, the officers do not claim to have seen a gun until after they approached a second time, having spoken with Brandon and run his plates, and asked Brandon to step out of the car due to his license plate coming back under Dollar rental car, instead of Hertz. The passenger side police officer at this time, according to a police statement, advised his partner on the driver’s side that he saw a gun. When Brandon exited the vehicle, in compliance with the officer’s instructions, an officer pointed a gun at Brandon’s back and demanded to know where the gun was. This is when he denied having the gun on him.

 

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