Philadelphia man shot by police was running for gun, officer says

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 10, 2015 2:14 AM

(Reuters) - Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter on Tuesday released documents on December's fatal police shooting of a black man that clash with accounts by law enforcement officials saying the man had been reaching for a gun when he was shot.

A national outcry over police violence against minorities has been sparked off by high-profile police killings of unarmed black men in cities such as Ferguson, Missouri and New York in the past year.

In March, Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said

no officer would be criminally charged in the killing of Brandon Tate-Brown early on the morning of Dec. 15.

"All the evidence" indicated Brown "appeared to be reaching for an illegal handgun at the time he was shot," his statement added.

But the documents released on Tuesday included a statement by officer Nicholas Carrelli, saying he had fired on Tate-Brown as the latter was behind the car and running toward the gun.

The District Attorney's Office could not be immediately reached for comment overnight.

Carelli detailed for investigators the chaotic scene that unfolded after he and his partner, officer Heng Dang, pulled Brown over for driving with his tail-lights off.

Carrelli saw a gun butt next to the front passenger seat, he said, prompting the pair to have Tate-Brown exit the car and attempt to handcuff him. But a scuffle broke out shortly after Tate-Brown emerged.

Tate-Brown twice made it back into the vehicle during the fight, and was attempting to grab the gun, Carelli added.

Carelli said he shot while Tate-Brown was running from behind the car toward the gun, having broken free from the officers a third time.

"What was going through my mind was that he was going to get to the passenger side and get to the gun," he said.

"I wanted to discharge before I lost sight of him, because I feared that he would be able to get the gun before I would be able to protect myself."

Brian Mildenberg, an attorney for Tate-Brown's family, who have filed a lawsuit over the killing, told the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper that the official narrative of the shooting was "a complete and utter lie."

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)