PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia prosecutor has refused to reopen an investigation into the death of an unarmed man shot by police officers after the police department recanted their original story that the man attempted to reach for a gun.
District Attorney Seth Williams declined to prosecute officers for the slaying of Brandon Tate-Brown, an unarmed man who police originally said reached into his car to grab a loaded handgun. The police department has since changed their version of events, admitting their original account was false.
The original story given by police was that Tate-Brown reached into his rental car to grab a loaded handgun, but it has since come out that Tate-Brown was in fact behind the car when Officer Nicholas Carrelli shot him. Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey excused the inconsistency by saying his office was pressured to quickly provide a statement without necessarily getting the facts straight.
Williams reportedly waited six months after receiving the false report to make his decision not to prosecute, but has not commented on the fact that police initially provided false statements to the prosecution. Williams insisted his office thoroughly investigated the events, but determined what happened was “tragic, but not criminal.”
“Tate-Brown had a gun in the car with his DNA on it, tried to get it on more than one occasion, and was shot because he put two Philadelphia police officers and everyone else who was at the scene that evening in danger,” said Williams, without addressing the inconsistent story given by police.
Tate-Brown’s mother, Tanya Brown-Dickerson, says her son was fleeing police after they began beating him during a traffic stop, after which point he was shot in the back. Surveillance footage and witness statements, released after months of delays, corroborate Tanya Brown-Dickerson’s version of events, but have not been acknowledged by the prosecutor.
The police officers who killed Tate-Brown and reported the false story, Heng Dang and Nicholas Carrelli, have been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, and are still employed by the Philadelphia Police Department.