Authorities in Virginia have released disturbing body camera video of a deputy shooting a Black man who was holding a cordless phone and who had just received a ride home by the same law enforcement officer.
Isaiah Brown, 32, survived more than six rounds fired at him Wednesday and was in a hospital “fighting for his life,” said a spokesman for the law firm representing him. The deputy was not named by the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office.
Brown was holding a house phone when he was shot, said Ryan Julison, spokesman for the Cochran Firm in Los Angeles.
When Brown got home, he dialed 911 because he said his brother wouldn’t let him into his mother’s room to retrieve his car keys and other items, according to audio of the dispatch call. The sheriff’s department categorized it as a domestic disturbance call.
“Isaiah was on the phone with 911 at the time of the shooting and the officer mistook a cordless house phone for a gun,” Julison said in a statement. “There is no indication that Isaiah did anything other than comply with dispatch’s orders and raised his hands with the phone in his hand as instructed.”
The account is supported by dispatch audio released by the sheriff’s office.
“Do you have any weapons on you?” a dispatcher asks.
“No,” Brown responds, telling dispatch that he’s “walking down the road” with his house phone. The shooting can be heard on the audio tape.
The deputy who responded to the call, the same one who had given Brown a ride home, appears to believe the phone to his ear is a firearm. The deputy is heard saying, “He’s got a gun to his head.”
“Drop the gun,” he yells before opening fire. “Drop the gun, now!”
After the 3:19 a.m. shooting, the deputy administered “life-saving first aid,” to Brown, Sheriff Roger Harris said, and another deputy who arrived separately is heard on the call saying, “Where’s the gun at? Where’s the gun?”
The deputy who shot Brown was placed on administrative leave, and a special state prosecutor will investigate, Harris said in a statement.
At one point during the call, Brown can be heard threatening to kill his brother and saying, “Give me the gun.” But when the dispatcher asks whether he has a weapon “on you,” Brown says, “Nope.”
The deputy had given Brown a ride around 2:30 a.m. after Brown’s vehicle broke down several miles from his home, according to NBC Washington.
The dispatcher seemed to know this, saying, “Your car is broken down, so why do you need your keys?”
Julison said, “Isaiah is now fighting for his life as a result of these completely avoidable errors by the deputy and dispatch.”
The Virginia Sheriff’s Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Spotsylvania County is about 66 miles south of Washington, D.C.