“You murdered my son. You support the cops who lied and murdered my son,” Tanya Brown-Dickerson shouted outside the Center City office of District Attorney Seth Williams on Thursday night, blocking rush-hour traffic on a frigid night with a small group of others.
“Give me my son, and I’ll leave you the hell alone. Give me my boy,” Brown-Dickerson screamed. “You can’t do that.”
Two years later, Brown-Dickerson is still mourning the death of her son at the hands of Philadelphia police, and she’s not stopping her calls for the two officers involved to be prosecuted.
But Williams released a statement Thursday reaffirming his position that his “sympathies continue to go to the Tate-Brown family,” but that he has no plans to reopen the investigation.
What happened, he said, “was tragic, but not criminal.”
That’s a hard message for Brown-Dickerson to accept.
“I can’t believe a human being is capable of not seeing any criminal activity within the videos of my son getting killed,” Brown-Dickerson said. “When I’m seeing every single officer across U.S. always not be found guilty, I have a problem with this.”
Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif, who is Tate-Brown’s cousin, helped lead the protest, which lingered for about a half hour in the middle of the street outside the District Attorney’s Office.
“We told you that we were never going to let you forget about Brandon Tate-Brown,” Khalif yelled into a bullhorn over a cacophony of of honking cars. “I want Seth Williams to know.”
Two years ago, on Dec. 15, 2014, two Philadelphia police officers pulled over 26-year-old Tate Brown around 3 a.m. on Frankford Avenue in Mayfair. Police say Tate-Brown was stopped for driving with his car lights off, but a witness told police he was told by an officer that Tate-Brown was targeted because the Dodge Charger was driving matched a vehicle described in a robbery earlier that day.
Once they pulled the car over, police said they noticed a gun tucked between the passenger seat and middle console and asked Tate-Brown to step out. That’s when a tussle began between Tate-Brown and the two officers, Nicholas Carrelli and Heng Dang.
Carrelli told investigators he fired his fatal shot at Tate-Brown as he was running around the back of his car. Carrelli thought he was heading to the passenger side of his car to grab a gun.
Tate-Brown’s DNA was found on the loaded gun in the Dodge Charger.
Williams announced in March that the officers were justified in using deadly force, declining to charge them. He said the officers acted in self-defense.
Protests erupted across the city, and the case attracted some national attention.
Last June, amid calls from Tate-Brown’s family and other advocates that officials disclose more information about the deadly episode, city officials publicly released a trove of investigatory files including witness statements, interviews with the officers and fuzzy video footage.
Carrelli told investigators that he had a Taser with him at the time of the incident, but that he couldn’t “make contact with the Taser” during the struggle.
Brown-Dickerson has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the two officers. It is still pending. There is a status conference scheduled on the suit scheduled for January.
Tate-Brown had a criminal history, including a 2007 aggravated assault conviction for which he served five years in prison.
Back at the protest, demonstrator Nolwazi Powell said she turned out to implore local authorities to re-examine the officers involved in the Tate-Brown case, and also for criminal justice reforms that will hold police officers accountable for unjustified shootings.
“These people who are murdered by the police are more than hashtags. Brandon was someone’s son. And I have brothers, I have nephews. And this culture doesn’t value black lives,” said Powell. “We need to begin the act of pursuing justice. It’s too easy to try to forget and move on, but you can’t move on when a life is lost.”