Who killed Brandon Tate-Brown?
A protest was held in Northeast Philadelphia on Saturday, February 21st, the anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, to demand justice for Brandon Tate-Brown, a Philadelphia man shot down by Philly cops in the early hours of December 15th, 2014. More than 100 protesters braved cold temperatures and snowstorm to demonstrate outside of the police district nearest to where Tate-Brown was gunned down by cops. The District Attorney and Philadelphia police still refuse to release the name of the officer who killed Tate-Brown during a “routine” traffic stop in the Mayfair section of the city.
At approximately 2:45 AM, Tate-Brown was pulled over by cops, shortly after dropping a woman friend off at her home. Police claim that he was driving without headlights on. He was asked to exit the vehicle and according to police a struggle ensued. Tate-Brown, then allegedly tried to reenter the car to retrieve a small caliber handgun in the console. The officer shot Brandon Tate-Brown in the back of the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene shortly afterward.
An attorney for the family of Brand Tate-Brown, Brian Mildenberg, says that surveillance video of the traffic stop, gathered by police from nearby businesses, shows that the headlights on Brandon’s car were on. This contradicts the official account offered by cops. Mildenberg also says that the video show that Tate-Brown was attempting to run away from cops and not, as police claim, trying to go for the gun allegedly in the car he was driving. The attorney and activists are calling for the release of all evidence.
A report by a private investigator hired by Tate-Brown’s family says that Brandon had stopped at a convenience store shortly before the encounter with cops. Security camera footage from the store reportedly shows the headlights on the car to be on. The friend he had brought home earlier stated that he never had a gun while in her presence. It’s quite possible that the gun was planted. There are numerous cases where cops have been revealed to have used so-called “drop” guns — unaccounted for firearms taken from suspects and carried for later use to frame victims of cop violence.
The killing of Tate-Brown was the fourth use of deadly force by a Philadelphia cop in 2014 out of a total of 26 police shootings. In 2013, there were 42 officer-involved shootings with 13 fatalities.
The media and police have emphasized Brandon’s past criminal activity. He was on parole having served 5 years in prison for aggravated assault. This is typical of the way victims of police violence are demonized in the media from Michael Brown to Eric Garner. Accounts of family and friends contradict this narrative. Brandon earned his GED while in prison and had begun to turn his life around until he was murdered by cops. He had an apartment of his own and a steady job at a car rental company with plans to attend community college, so that he could mentor youth in order that they would not make the mistakes he had made.
Speaking to The Root, Brandon’s mother, Tanya Brown, asked, “Why did they find it necessary to shoot him in the back of the head? His face was horrific. But I believe in God. And I am grateful that I got to see my son’s face…those were bruises and scrapes…they had no intention of letting my son live.”
The family of Brandon Tate-Brown and the Philadelphia Coalition for REAL Justice are demanding justice for Brandon. We are also demanding that authorities release the name of the cop who killed him. We know the names of the officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, but it is unclear why the name of the cop is being withheld.