Editor’s Note: This article originally quoted from Police Directive 22, which governs use of less-lethal force. Lethal force is governed by a separate directive.
By Dustin Slaughter and Vincent Heck
The mother of 26 year-old Brandon Tate Brown, a young man gunned down by a Philadelphia police officer on the morning of December 15th, spoke this afternoon to nearly one hundred people assembled at Thomas Paine Plaza during an anti-police brutality demonstration organized by United Muslim Masjid, the Muslim Wellness Foundation, and the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative.
She recalled her thoughts immediately following a Ferguson grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson:
“God, please place me in a position to help me fight for our black men’s lives that are being eradicated on the regular. Please let me have a voice that can scream across the U.S. and be heard.”
“Never would I have thought I would be a part of this so-called genocide of our black men,” she says of her tragedy. “Brandon Tate-Brown was my son. He was my first born.”
Later in her address, she called on Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey to enforce the police department’s use-of-force policies.
“It does not have to be in the front or the back of the head like my son was gunned down. That was not necessary. There’s no justification, there’s no such thing as justifiable homicide when a man’s back is to you in Pennsylvania and there’s no gun in [his] hand.”
The department’s account of two unidentified officers’ interaction with Tate-Brown is very ambiguous, and lacks justification for why deadly force was used in the early morning hours of December 15th. There is no known civilian video of the encounter, and the Philadelphia Police Department is one of the few major metropolitan law enforcement agencies that does not use dashboard cameras, although a body-worn camera pilot program was recently launched in the 22nd District.
A source close to the Tate family told The Declaration last week that the family has hired a private investigator to conduct an independent inquiry into Tate-Brown’s death.
“Shooting investigations can take anywhere from a month or two to a year or more,” according to Police Advisory Commission head Kelvyn Anderson.
An official investigation will not conclude until, among other things, an Internal Affairs shooting team and homicide detective finish their assignment and a Use of Force Review Board issues its final determination, Anderson added.
Tate-Brown’s death, and his mother’s demand, come at a politically sensitive time for the commissioner, who was recently appointed by President Barack Obama to head a police reform task force.
“Commissioner Ramsey, I’m calling on you because Obama called on you and said you were the best. I need you to stop these unjustifiable lynchings of our black men. Period.”
Guest contributor Vincent Heck was born in Phoenixville, PA, a semi-quaint Philadelphia suburb. He started his journey as a writer at 9-years-old, writing about everything he could for his family. His professional writing venture started in 2006 while working in a world-acclaimed New York City publishing house. Having published over 400 articles for Yahoo!, Heck is known for his prolific beginning in sportsblogging. He is now working on his third fiction novel set to release in 2016.