A 2014 Florida fatal shooting is under renewed scrutiny after a newly released video showed that police officers shot an unarmed Black man within seconds of the encounter without provocation.
The Pasco Sheriff’s Office has insisted that the death of Jerry Dwight Brown, 41, was justified because he ignored commands by the arresting officer, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Investigators also insisted Brown was reaching for something which led to the shooting.
“When they said ‘Show me your hands,’ the suspect should’ve showed us his hands,” Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco told reporters at the time. “He didn’t.”
The State Attorney’s Office declared that Brown’s “failure to comply” led to the fatal outcome. Still, it was urged for deputies to review the encounter “with an eye towards conducting further operations of this type in such a manner as to minimize the risk of the need to utilize deadly force.”
However, previously unreleased footage from that encounter show deputies opened fire almost immediately on July 1, 2014.
The video was recorded from the driver’s seat and it shows that Brown was given no time to respond to any orders by Sgt. Clinton Cabbage and Det. Daniel Green. Instead, an undercover cop convinced Brown to get into his car as part of a drug bust over prescription pills and Cabbage and Green surrounded the car. It took 11 seconds before cops fired four shots. Brown was shot three times and later died at the hospital.
The video has been released as it is now considered a public record in Florida. In 2014, police videos were exempt from being made public and The Pasco Sheriff’s Office refused to release it. They were even against the Bay Times publishing it.
Lindsay Moore, the office’s general counsel, claimed the “video portions depicting the death of Mr. Brown are clearly confidential and exempt from public disclosure.” Moore said publishing the video would be “in violation of the law.”
The police-related shooting took place weeks before Eric Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by Staten Island police. Though Garner’s case attracted national outrage Brown’s death was unknown to most outside the town.
The family settled for $262,500 without the Sherriff’s office having to admit any liability. Cabbage and Green were both involved in previous other fatal shootings but still have their jobs. Cabbage is now a special operations lieutenant and Green is a code enforcement corporal, but Brown’s family continues to grieve.
“They just did him wrong,” Robert Sims, Brown’s stepfather who witnessed the shooting, said. “It was a setup. He was unarmed.”
Sims hoped that the protests which have followed George Floyd’s death would bring about change.
“It’s everywhere. It won’t change overnight but it’s happening too regularly,” he said.
The video contains graphic content and can be viewed below.
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