The mother of a 26-year-old man who was shot in the back of the head by a Philadelphia police officer in 2014 has withdrawn a civil lawsuit against the department.
Brandon Tate-Brown was killed early on the morning of Dec. 14, 2014 during a traffic stop on Frankford Avenue in the Mayfair section. The shooting occurred in the same police district David Jones was killed this summer during a police confrontation.
Tate-Brown’s mother, Tanya Brown-Dickerson, came to the “painful decision” to withdraw a civil suit when her health began to fail, her cousin, Black Lives Matter PA activist Asa Khalif, said.
“Emotionally, she can’t afford it. The stress is too much for her heart,” he said on behalf of the family. “Losing a child and battling the system can take a toll. At the end of the day, there is no amount of money that is acceptable to bring a loved one back.”
Brown-Dickerson dropped the suit on Sept. 13, 2017. In the court filing, the family’s attorney said they are “facing a contested trial, in which it is not possible to know how the jury or court might rule.” However, Brown-Dickerson’s “decision should not be taken to mean that she approves of the police officers’ conduct,” court documents said.
In the civil suit, which was filed in September 2015, Tate-Brown’s family accused police of wrongful death, using excessive force and violating his constitutional rights. They also accused police of lying about what happened the morning Tate-Brown was killed.
The police department initially said two officers pulled him over because he was driving without his headlights on. The department later said Tate-Brown matched the description of a robbery suspect. When he was pulled over, surveillance video showed a prolonged interaction between Tate-Brown and police that led to a scuffle and, eventually, his death.
Investigation details changed over time, prompting Tate-Brown’s family to accuse the police department of tampering with evidence. But officials later said the confusion emerged from a miscommunication between investigators and spokespeople who were bombarded with media requests for more details.
“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 at the rear of the vehicle. It took the mother’s legal action to bring forth those facts,” the family’s attorney, Brian Mildenberg, said in a statement.
Fights and protests erupted when former District Attorney Seth Williams announced the officers involved in the shooting were cleared of wrongdoing. Both remain employed with the police department, Philadelphia police spokesman Capt. Sekou Kinebrew said.
“We’re now just finally grieving,” Khalif said of losing his cousin. “It’s this emptiness that never goes away. The holidays are coming and Halloween was his favorite. And Thanksgiving, we have a seat for him.”