PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Ten people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct at a raucous Philadelphia community meeting where protesters shoved police officers and threw chairs in anger over the district attorney’s decision against charges in a fatal police-involved shooting.
District Attorney Seth Williams said Thursday, Mar. 19, the death of 26-year-old motorist Brandon Tate-Brown during an overnight traffic stop in December was a “terrible tragedy, but not a crime.”
He said surveillance video and other evidence corroborated the officers’ story that Tate-Brown was reaching back into his car for a loaded pistol when an officer opened fire.
Protesters unhappy with the decision disrupted a meeting Williams and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey attended Thursday night at a recreation center in the city’s Lawncrest section.
They chanted “Who killed Brandon Tate-Brown?” and “No justice, no peace, no racist police” and demanded Williams and Ramsey release the names of the officers involved in the shooting.
Ramsey declined, citing their safety. He called the crowd’s display embarrassing.
“What you saw tonight is the reason I’m not going to put those officers in jeopardy,” Ramsey said. “You saw what happened. So why would I do that?”
No one was seriously injured.
The fatal shooting of a motorist by police was a tragedy but not a crime, Philadelphia’s district attorney said Thursday.
Police say an officer shot Tate-Brown once in the head after pulling him over at about 2:45 a.m. on Dec. 15 for driving without headlights on. Police say Tate-Brown had several prior arrests.
“He broke away from officers three separate times,” Williams said. “He went around the car towards the passenger side where he tried to reach inside to the place where he knew he had put his gun.”
Williams said he spoke with Tate-Brown’s family before announcing his findings. He said his heart goes out to them.
Tanya Dickerson, Tate-Brown’s mother, along with the family’s attorney, Brian Mildenberg, spoke to reporters Thursday afternoon and said they expect to file a civil rights lawsuit.
“Like any mother, I choked and I cried,” Dickerson said when she found out that charges would not be filed.
Mildenberg said the family is questioning why Tate-Brown was pulled over and whether the use of force was justified.
The officer and his partner were not wounded in the incident in the city’s Mayfair section. Police said the officer was placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation.
There were 29 officer-involved shooting in Philadelphia last year. Four of them involved a suspect being killed.
A woman marching in Philadelphia on Martin Luther King Jr. Day carried a sign bearing Tate-Brown’s name as others chanted “Black lives matter!” to protest police killings of black men, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York.
Ramsey, after the melee Thursday, said he agreed with their sentiment but not their tactics.
“Black lives matter,” he said. “They have a legitimate issue and the way to get the issue heard is not the way it went down tonight.”
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