Family of man killed by Philly police drops wrongful death case against city

The mother of a man who police shot to death during a routine 2015 traffic stop in Mayfair has withdrawn her federal civil-rights lawsuit against the city, just weeks before going to trial.

Tanya Brown-Dickerson requested the dismissal on Sept. 13 in a petition that didn’t detail her reasons for the request, other than noting the family faced “a contested trial, in which it is not possible to know how the jury or court might rule.”

Brown-Dickerson filed the wrongful death and excessive force lawsuit in April 2015 and a trial was set to begin on Monday.

Her son, Brandon Tate-Brown, 26, died in December 2014 after Officers Nicholas Carrelli and Heng Dang pulled him over for driving his borrowed Dodge Charger at night with just its daytime running lights. A struggle erupted and Carrelli, who later told investigators he spotted the butt of a gun in Tate-Brown’s center console, shot Tate-Brown once in the head. In later protests, Brown-Dickerson claimed the gun was planted at the scene.

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Police and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office cleared the cops of wrongdoing in separate probes.

The case catalyzed the Black Lives Matter movement in Philly — organizer Asa Khalif is Brown-Dickerson’s cousin — and intensified calls for police reform. It also led police officials to begin releasing the names of officers who shoot people, after Tate-Brown’s supporters rallied regularly demanding the identities of the cops involved in his car stop and shooting.

Brown-Dickerson even met with Hillary Clinton, who was then running for president, during an April 2016 meeting Clinton had with mothers who lost loved ones to violence, in many cases at the hands of police officers.

The lawsuit’s voluntary dismissal was first reported by Philly Declaration.

U.S. District Judge C. Darnell Jones II ordered the dismissal, which is final and bars Brown-Dickerson from reopening the case or seeking damages again.

Khalif told WHYY his cousin “just couldn’t emotionally and physically fight any longer. She was stuck in pain and grief. Her decision was extremely difficult, but she has the full support of the family.”

He added: “No amount of money can be a substitute for Brandon’s life. No amount will relieve the physical and emotional pain I and my family endure everyday. No amount of blood money can forgive the sins and corruption in the police department and DA’s Office (and) the injustice in Philadelphia’s justice system.”

Brown-Dickerson refused to comment through her attorney Brian Mildenberg.

Mildenberg declined to discuss the dismissal, but credited the case with forcing investigators to more truthfully acknowledge what led to Tate-Brown’s death.

“As a result of Ms. Brown-Dickerson’s efforts, the Philadelphia Police Department was required to change the official story of the shooting of Brandon Tate-Brown to reflect that he was not reaching into the right passenger side of his vehicle for a gun when shot in the back of the head by a police officer, but was shot (unarmed) at the rear of the vehicle,” Mildenberg said. “It took the mother’s legal action to bring forth those facts. People should not judge or question Ms. Brown-Dickerson’s decision not to go further in civil court; only the mother of the deceased can make such a decision for herself and her family.”

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