By Dustin Slaughter
Speaking exclusively to The Declaration this afternoon, the Police Advisory Commission’s Executive Director, Kelvyn Anderson, says he reviewed several witness statements – including from three residents, an emergency responder, and one of the officers who pulled over Brandon Tate-Brown’s white Dodge Charger rental vehicle – as well as three surveillance videos this morning.
Anderson says the physical struggle between the young man and police “seemed to take place over three or four minutes” and that the entire encounter in total lasted from four to five minutes.
He stressed that the materials he was finally able to review, when compared to the medical examiner’s report which was released today by the Brown family’s attorney, Brian Mildenberg, and reported on by Daily News reporter Dana DiFilippo, still do not create an accurate picture of what took place during the December 15th officer-involved shooting incident in which 26 year-old Tate-Brown was fatally shot in the back of the head.
One piece of camera footage, which captured the initial traffic stop, indicates Tate-Brown may have been driving with “daytime headlights,” meaning that they were insufficiently bright for early morning driving. The video also briefly shows struggling between the officers and Tate-Brown, although the angles and overall quality of the footage, when viewed without witness statements, do not provide necessary context, Anderson says.
“By itself, honestly, the video is simply confusing. It doesn’t really answer the questions. So, I think part of the problem here is that initially, the family and their attorney only viewed the video.”
“There are several witness statements which are very consistent, frankly, that show that during the several minutes where you really can’t see anything on the video, there was a pretty proactive struggle in the street between the officers and Brandon Tate-Brown.”
One of the witnesses allegedly overheard police repeatedly ask Tate-Brown about the location of a gun. Tate-Brown admitted that it was inside the rental car.
Witness statements also allege that Tate-Brown broke free from officers on two occasions: once while attempting to get back into his vehicle on the driver’s side, followed by a second break in which Tate-Brown attempted to get to the passenger side before being shot to death.
Tonya Brown-Dickerson and her attorney, after viewing the video privately at police headquarters late last week, claim that her son was gunned down near the trunk of the vehicle.
Attorney Brian Mildenberg, who was retained by the family this month, today released what he views as new inconsistencies in the official account.
A medical examiner’s report from December and obtained by Mildenberg this week reveal that officers initially made no mention of pulling Tate-Brown over for driving without headlights turned on. Additionally, the report indicates that officers asked Tate-Brown to step out of the car after running the plates and finding they did not match with the rental company for which Tate-Brown said he worked.
Police initially told the public and press that officers spotted a gun in the center console, prompting them to order he exit the vehicle.
Another detail in the ME report, according to the attorney and the police department’s own website, and one that officials have not mentioned previously, is that Tate-Brown “reached for his waistband” as if to pull out a weapon. This is also a new allegation.
Anderson says that these discrepencies are not “necessarily an indication that something’s wrong or that [police] are changing it around to suit their version.”
He quickly added, however: “That said, when the public views a situation like this, it’s going to raise a lot of questions. And this gets to what [Police Advisory] has said all along with respect to coming up with a kind of standardized way to report these kinds of incidents out in their entirety.”
“This is to my knowledge one of the first times [Police Advisory] has gotten this level of detail out of any incident like this. Hopefully some of [the public’s confusion] will be cleared up when we move to the final report” on this case.
Anderson credited the public’s consistent pressure for answers and transparency, as well as attention from the press, as major factors in getting Philadelphia police to disclose what little details the public knows of the Tate-Brown case. He also hopes that this case will prove a turning point for better handling of officer-involved shootings in Philadelphia.
The PAC released a statement this evening.