Why Was Isaiah Brown Shot? His Family Want Answers

Isaiah Brown's sister Yolanda (center) spoke during Monday's press conference. Photo by Brian Carlton.

By Brian Carlton

April 26, 2021

The family outlined four requests for the sheriff’s office Monday. Three are for information. The fourth involves a change they want to see.

SPOTSYLVANIA-Jennifer Brown wants her son to come home alive. A Spotsylvania County deputy shot Isaiah Brown 10 times on April 21 while the home health aide was on the phone with 911. Even after the body cam and 911 transcripts were released, questions remain. As he’s fighting for his life in the hospital, Isaiah’s family outlined four requests in a Monday press conference. 

First, they want Spotsylvania Sheriff Roger Harris to stop giving updates on Isaiah’s condition. Brown family attorney David Haynes said that’s because the updates have been misleading. He pointed to the original press release and followup statements from the sheriff’s office, which say Isaiah is in serious, but non-life threatening condition. 

“This is not true,” Haynes said. “He is on a breathing machine currently and the family has unfortunately been informed that he remains in very critical, guarded condition.” 

Haynes added that doctors only removed two of the 10 bullets, due to Isaiah’s current condition. 

What Did Dispatch Tell The Deputy? 

But beyond medical conditions, the family wants answers. Haynes pointed out that only the 911 call between the dispatch and Isaiah has been released. During that call, the 911 dispatcher asks Isaiah if he has a gun in his possession now. Isaiah said no.  That was 90 seconds before anyone arrived on scene, so Haynes and the family want to know what the dispatch told deputies. 

“It’s very important when we’re dispatching law enforcement out to a scene like this that they have the full information,” Haynes said. “It was a full 90 seconds before [the deputy arrived] he said he had no gun.” 

To get those answers, the Brown family wants all audio between the dispatch center and the deputies made public. They also want access to all audio previously recorded that evening during the first time Isaiah encountered this same still unnamed deputy. 

Earlier that night, Isaiah’s call had broken down, so the deputy gave him a ride home. Isaiah got the car towed back to his house and placed in the backyard. The only way to get to it, however, was through his mother’s room, which had a door leading out to the backyard. When Isaiah wanted to go get some things out of the car, his brother wouldn’t let him go through their mother’s room to do so. That set off an argument, which led to the 911 call at 3:18 a.m. April 21. 

“Can you send somebody down here?” Isaiah asked the dispatcher. 

The dispatcher asked “what is going on, Isaiah? Why don’t you just, what is the problem?” 

“I’m about to kill my brother,” Isaiah Brown responded. 

He then told the 911 dispatcher that “somebody needs to come here real quick.” 

“Do you understand that you just threatened to kill your brother on a recorded line on 911?” the dispatcher asks. 

“Mmhmm,” Isaiah replied. 

“So why would you say something like that?” the dispatcher asked. 

“Because I need to get to my s***,” Isaiah responded. 

At that point, Isaiah Brown took the phone and walked outside. 

‘Isaiah Brown Was Unarmed’ 

Haynes pointed out that Isaiah Brown followed all the rules. He removed himself from the home, walking down the street. He also obeyed all commands given by the 911 dispatcher. 

In the 911 call, we hear the deputy as he arrives, shouting “show me your hands” to Isaiah Brown. Isaiah goes silent on the call, as he lifts the phone and his hands up. We know this from the call, as we can hear the deputy. 

“Show me your hands now. Show me your hands,” we hear the deputy say. “Drop the gun. He’s got a gun to his head. Drop the gun now. He’s walking towards me. Stop walking towards me.” 

That’s when the deputy opens fire, after mistaking the cordless phone for a gun. After firing and hitting Isaiah Brown multiple times, we still hear the deputy on the 911 call. He keeps asking Isaiah to show his hands and to drop the gun. 

“The deputies made terrible, grave policing errors,” Haynes said. “They did not wait for backup. They did not properly light the situation with the lightbar on the vehicle. [They] did not use the spotlight properly.” 

Now Haynes refers to multiple deputies in that statement. When questioned, he said there were two on scene that night. Dogwood has not been able to confirm that. There is no second deputy visible on the body cam video. We also don’t hear any other voices on the 911 call. 

The actions after the shooting don’t indicate the presence of a second deputy either. The deputy who pulled the trigger asks Isaiah’s brother to go into his squad car and get the first aid kit, telling him where it is. If a second deputy was on site, he was silent and stayed out of the way. 

Family of Isaiah Brown Wants Transcripts

In addition to the other requests, the Brown family also wants copies of the information taken down by the dispatcher. In the 911 call, you can hear the dispatcher typing as she asks questions. The family wants to know what she wrote, as well as what information she sent to the monitor in the deputy’s squad car. That way, they’ll understand what exactly the deputy knew. They hope then to understand why he drew his gun after stepping out of the car, despite encountering Isaiah hours before. 

“I have many [questions] I would like to have answered,” said Yolanda Brown, Isaiah’s sister. “We don’t have any hate in our heart or prejudice towards anyone. Our hearts go out to the families that understand exactly how we feel.”

Here is the link to the sheriff’s statement, as well as the 911 audio and body cam footage. The sheriff’s office combined it all into one YouTube video.

Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at [email protected].

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