Protesters say justice still denied in Tate-Brown shooting

Sam Newhouse

In the two years since the controversial police shooting of a black man who was pulled over for driving without headlights, the city has instituted changes to address such situations.

To the family of the slain man, Brandon Tate-Brown, the changes do nothing to remedy what they deem an injustice.

The family and members of Black Lives Matter marked the second anniversary of Tate-Brown’s death on Thursday with a protest in Center City.

Protesters blocked rush-hour traffic around City Hall outside the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office and called for the prosecution of the officers who shot Tate-Brown.

“Do I feel like this is useless? Sometimes,” said Tanya Brown-Dickerson, Tate-Brown’s mother. “But this was my child. So I have to keep fighting. … I’m going to block this street every year.”

In the years since the shooting, the Philadelphia Police Department has adopted a policy of identifying officers who shoot their guns within 48 hours.

The DA’s Office last month instituted new policies to send a prosecutor to the scenes of all shootings by police, and to release their investigative files to the public.

“I’m glad the next family in our place won’t have to go through the same things we went through,” said Asa Khalif, a Black Lives Matter activist and cousin of Tate-Brown.

But he added that he believes DA Seth Williams’ new policies were “politically motivated” and said he still wants the officers who shot Tate-Brown punished.

“There’s no statute of limitations for murder,” he said. “These two police officers can still be held accountable.”

Tate-Brown, 26, was shot after being pulled over in Frankford in the early morning hours of Dec. 15, 2014. Police said he was stopped because he was driving with his headlights off.

The traffic stop turned into a struggle after officers spotted a handgun in Tate-Brown’s car. Surveillance video released to media showed Tate-Brown struggling with officers before being shot as he ran toward his car. Original police accounts described Tate-Brown diving into the car where the gun was when he was shot.

Williams declined to press charges in the case.

“DA Williams’ sympathies continue go out to the Tate-Brown family, but he stands by his decision to not file charges against the officers and he has no plans to re-open the investigation because what happened was tragic, but not criminal,” Williams’ spokesman Cameron Kline said via email.

Former Mayor Michael Nutter later released the names of the officers involved in the shooting and other investigative materials related to the case.

Brown-Dickerson is currently suing the city in federal court. Herlawsuitmay to go to trial as early as 2017.

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