BRANDON TATE-BROWN was running - not reaching into his car for a gun - when he was fatally shot by a Philadelphia police officer in December, a lawyer representing Tate-Brown's family told the Daily News last night.
Attorney Brian Mildenberg said he and Tanya Brown-Dickerson on Thursday viewed surveillance footage of Tate-Brown's encounter with two patrol cops during a traffic stop on Frankford Avenue near Magee in Mayfair on Dec. 15.
The footage, recorded by four different cameras at nearby businesses, is imperfect - grainy images that are sometimes obstructed or washed out by the police cruiser's flashing domelights.
But what's clear, Mildenberg said, is that Tate-Brown's shooting didn't mirror police accounts of the incident.
The Police Department has repeatedly said Tate-Brown had knocked one officer to the ground after a violent struggle, and was fatally wounded by the other officer as he reached into the front passenger side of his 2014 Dodge Charger for a stolen, loaded handgun that was near the center console.
Mildenberg confirmed that Tate-Brown is shown fighting with the officers, a battle that stretched from one side of Frankford Avenue to another.
But the attorney said Tate-Brown's final movements played out differently than many think.
"From the video, the moment he was shot, he was running away from the officer, across Frankford Avenue," Mildenberg said.
"He was behind his vehicle, near the trunk of the vehicle - not near any doors - when he was shot and dropped down."
Mildenberg said he and Brown-Dickerson want the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the case, which is still being reviewed locally by District Attorney Seth Williams.
Mildenberg said he also wants the Police Department to release the surveillance footage to the public, along with witness statements, police radio chatter and any other records about the shooting.
"If you're running across Frankford Avenue, obviously that's not complying with the police officer, and we're not saying that's OK," he said.
"But police aren't licensed to shoot every person that runs from them."
Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said last night that the "quality of the tapes are not very good" and were filmed at a distance that did not offer much clarity.
"The investigation did not rely solely on the tape," he said. "You have the officers' statements, and statements from four independent eyewitnesses who actually observed the incident as it took place."
Ramsey said he won't release those statements, or the videos, to the public. He has also declined to release the names of the officers, out of concern they could face retaliation of some kind.
"Believe me, I understand the loss of life, and the tragedy that goes along with it, but we also have to be very mindful to let the investigation take place," he said.
"This isn't trial by media, and it's not trial by public opinion. This has to be based on facts."
Earlier this week, Ramsey apologized to Brown-Dickerson for not notifying her weeks ago when the two officers who were involved in the shooting returned to street duty, having been cleared of any departmental violations.
He also arranged for Brown-Dickerson to view the footage at the Internal Affairs Division's headquarters in Northeast Philadelphia, something she had called for publicly for the last two months.
Brown-Dickerson did not feel up to commenting yesterday, her lawyer said, but earlier this week, she told the Daily News: "Show us the proof now. They said once the investigation is up, I would get proof. Then show me. Show me the footage. Until I see that, it's not over."
"We did let them see the tape. That's what was being asked, and we did see to that," Ramsey said. "We have nothing to hide."
Mildenberg said Brown-Dickerson "had to leave the room" as she watched the footage.
"It was obviously extremely difficult, as it would be for any mother, to view video of her son's death."
The attorney said he is not preparing to file a wrongful-death lawsuit. He and Brown-Dickerson want to get to the bottom of several discrepancies, including why Tate-Brown was pulled over in the first place.
Police have said he was driving without his lights on, but Mildenberg said the footage shows that the lights were on, along with the car's turn signal.
Supporters of Tate-Brown's family plan to hold a protest rally at 2 p.m. today at the site of the fatal shooting.
"Mrs. Brown-Dickerson appreciates the support of the public, but does not call for any violent protests," Mildenberg said. "She absolutely rejects all forms of violence."