A 911 call released Friday by authorities indicates the Spotsylvania deputy who shot a 32-year-old county resident multiple times early Wednesday may have mistaken a phone for a gun.
Isiah L. Brown was shot in the 12200 block of Catharpin Road shortly after calling 911 about 3:18 a.m. He told a dispatcher that he called because his brother wouldn’t let him into his mother’s room.
Brown was apparently concerned about getting his car, which had already been towed after breaking down earlier that night. Brown’s family members said Brown had received a ride home with the same deputy who later shot him.
After being told that his stated reason for calling 911 was not a good one, Brown told the dispatcher that someone better come quick because, “I’m about to kill my brother.”
He initially responded “yup” when the dispatcher asked him if he had a gun, but said on at least two other occasions that he did not.
Brown was still on the phone with the dispatcher as sirens were heard approaching. A deputy moments later could be heard shouting for Brown to hold up his hands and, “Drop the gun! Drop the gun!” After telling someone that Brown had the gun up to his own head, the deputy was then heard yelling, “Stop walking toward me!”
Next on the recording were what sounded like seven shots being fired in rapid succession. The deputy, who said on the recording that he’d fired five shots, is then heard several times asking, “Where is the gun?” before the recording stopped. It turned out there was no gun.
After shooting Brown, the deputy immediately rendered first aid until Brown was taken to Mary Washington Hospital, where he was still being treated Friday for wounds to his abdomen and side.
A body cam video that accompanied the released 911 call added little to clarify the 911 call. Brown doesn’t show up in the blurry video until he was already on the ground after being shot.
Speaking to a crowd of about 75 people who showed up in the courthouse area Friday afternoon, Sheriff Roger Harris on Friday credited the deputy, who has been placed on administrative leave, with saving Brown’s life.
Harris told the Black Lives Matter contingent that he supports their efforts and strives for accountability and transparency.
Harris’ appearance ended abruptly when Jakuta Williams challenged the sheriff about the March 8, 2018, death of his son, 16-year-old Jamil Harvey. Jamil was shot four times by a county deputy in a Salem Fields townhouse. Police ruled the shooting justified, something Harvey’s family disputes.
The sheriff responded to Williams’ challenge by walking back into the Sheriff’s Office and shutting the door.
The protesters repeated familiar chants while making the short march from the county administration building to the Sheriff’s Office. Before making the march, they clashed verbally with counterprotesters and expressed their outrage about another Black man being shot by a police officer in the U.S.
“We want answers for a young man fighting for his life right now,” said Anthony Foote, one of the protest organizers. “Isaiah needs to survive. It’s hard to know a story when there’s only one side.”
The two or three counter-protesters were led by Nick Ignacio, a candidate for the Board of Supervisors in Spotsylvania. Ignacio and another man who repeatedly shouted at the protesters and expressed support for law enforcement. They also tried to drown out the protest chants by blaring such music as the theme from the television show “Cops.”
The Virginia State Police is heading the investigation into Brown’s shooting. Fredericksburg Commonwealth’s Attorney LaBravia Jenkins has been appointed as special prosecutor and will decide what, if any, action will be taken against the unnamed deputy.
David Haynes, an attorney for Brown who works with the Cochran Firm in Washington, released a statement in which he said video and audio released by police Friday shows that Brown’s shooting was “completely avoidable.”
He said the deputy was 50 feet from Brown when he shot him and was never threatened.
“The officer mistook a cordless house phone for a gun,” Haynes said. “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.”
Haynes said the family is requesting more audio and said there was “obviously a failure of communication between dispatch and the officer which led to this tragic event.”
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404