A 32-year-old Black gay man is in critical condition after being shot multiple times by a police officer in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.
Isaiah Brown was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher on April 21 due to a family dispute when a Virginia sheriff’s deputy shot him. According to 911 audio and body camera footage released by the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office, Brown was heard arguing with his brother and repeatedly told the dispatcher, “I’m about to kill my brother.”
The dispatcher then asked whether Brown had a gun, and he did not give a clear answer. Shortly after, Brown was walking outside while holding a cordless house phone when the dispatcher repeated the question of whether he had a weapon, to which he responded, “no.”
The dispatcher then told Brown to hold his hands up, according to the audio transcript. According to the tape, sirens were blaring in the background and an unnamed officer shouted, “Drop the gun!” and “Show me your hands now!”
That morning, Brown was struck with bullets and was heard sighing in pain. The officer was heard reporting that Brown was shot and says, “I’ve got you, man, I’ll pray for you.” Virginia State Police told CNN that Brown was unarmed during the shooting.
Earlier that day, the same deputy gave Brown a ride when his car stopped working, the family’s attorney, David Haynes, said in a news conference, according to Richmond.com. The deputy has been placed on administrative leave, according to the sheriff’s office.
Haynes urged the sheriff’s office to make all footage and audio recordings related to the incident public. Haynes also accused the sheriff’s office of downplaying Brown’s medical condition. Although Brown has survived the incident, trauma surgeons told the victim’s family that he still has eight of the ten bullets lodged in his body.
Leading up to the nearly fatal encounter, the department took several missteps, Haynes said. For one, Haynes noted in a news conference that the incident “was clearly a failure of communication between the dispatch and officers that arrived on the scene.”
Hayne’s office did not immediately respond to Gay City News’ requests for comment.
As the family demands answers as to why their relative was shot, LGBTQ groups are echoing a similar sentiment.
David Johns, the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, a civil rights group, condemned the persistent violence against Black people from police officers.
“Isaiah Brown should not be hospitalized in critical condition,” Johns said in a written statement. “He should be living his life as he has always lived it — in service to others as an essential worker and health aide. All reporting indicates that Brown complied with orders, which included raising his arms with his cell phone in hand, and informing the 911 dispatcher he was unarmed ahead of police arrival.”
Brown’s identity as a Black LGBTQ person could make it even harder to receive justice in the case, Johns said.
“Still, Black LGBTQ+ people continue to die by violence, often unreported, perpetrated by police officers and other state-sanctioned actors who do not value Black Lives Matter,” Johns added.
The news comes amid an ongoing reckoning for racial justice and police accountability in the US. Since Derek Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty on all charges in the 2020 murder of George Floyd, other Black individuals have already died at the hands of police. The same day that 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was killed by a police officer in Columbus, Ohio, a report from ProPublica revealed that cops would not face disciplinary action in the death of Kawaski Trawick, a queer Black man fatally shot at home.
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