A Virginia sheriff's deputy has been indicted of a felony for firing on an unarmed Black man multiple times after allegedly mistaking the cordless landline phone in his hand for a gun.
Isiah Brown, 32, was shot at by Spotsylvania County Sheriff's deputy David Turbyfill around 3 am on April 21. Brown's attorney, David Haynes, said in a statement to People magazine that Brown "did nothing wrong and was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher when [the deputy] recklessly shot him eight times."
"The shooting resulted in significant injuries to Mr. Brown which will undoubtedly impact him for the rest of his life. Isiah Brown's life was shattered and changed forever when he crossed paths with David Turbyfill. While this indictment doesn't take Mr. Brown's physical pain away, it does signify a measure of justice," Haynes said.
The crime was incidentally documented by a 911 audio recording, as Brown had been on a call with them when he was shot. As per the recording, Brown placed the call and told a dispatcher, "My brother won't let me get inside my mom's room." After the dispatcher replied, "OK but your car is broken down so why do you need your key?," the brothers are overheard arguing, with Brown saying, "Give me the gun."
After the brother refused, Brown told the dispatcher, "Can you send somebody down here?" The dispatcher said, "What is going on, Isiah? Why don't you just – what is the problem?" to which he replies, "I'm about to kill my brother."
"Don't kill your brother. Why would you say something like that?," the dispatcher said to Brown, who again insisted for somebody to be sent at the spot. The dispatcher once again warned him, "Do you understand that you just threatened to kill your brother on a recorded line, on 911? Why would you say something like that?"
"Because I need to get my sh--," Brown said. When asked if he has a gun, he first answers yes, then "nope." He again repeats that he doesn't have any weapons on him and begins to walk down the road. "How are you walking down the road with the house phone?" the dispatcher asks, to which he says, "Because I can."
The sound of approaching sirens can be heard at this point, after which the dispatcher tells Brown to raise his hands, while an arriving deputy shouts, "Show me your hands, drop the gun!"
Another voice is heard saying: "He's got a gun to his head," referring to the phone that the victim was holding.
"Drop the gun now! Stop walking towards me! Stop walking towards me! Stop! Stop," shouted the first officer, after which shots are fired.
Later, an officer is heard saying, "I killed a guy."
According to the call's transcript, Brown's brother approaches while the officer is administering first aid and asks, "Does he still have the house phone?"
The deputy answers: "It's right here." Then, to Brown, the officer says: "Come on, man, stay with me." Finally, in the commotion of the first aid, and after promising "the hospital is coming," the deputy shouts, "Hey, where's the gun at? Where's the gun?"
The deputy has now been charged with "reckless handling of firearm resulting in serious injury." It was not immediately clear if he has entered a plea. If convicted on the felony charge, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.