Brian Williams Omits Gun Talk from 911 Call in Police Shooting Case

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In its years of highlighting controversial cases of police officers shooting suspects, there's been a recurring tendency in different cases to understate the factors that might have made the officers involved to feel threatened and make the cops' actions look as indefensible as possible.

In a recent case from Spotsylvania, Virginia, some news reports have omitted some of the provocative comments made by a police shooting victim, Isaiah Brown, after he called 911 to report a fight with his brother.

On Monday's World News Tonight, the show recalled "Authorities say Isaiah Brown is in intensive care tonight after being shot 10 times by a deputy responding to a domestic incident. It is believed the deputy might have mistaken Brown's phone for a gun."

After a clip of the body camera footage of the officer demanding that Brown drop what he believed was a gun, and then shooting him, Muir added: "Authorities say, at the time, Brown was actually on the phone with 911 over an argument with his brother. A family attorney calling it a failure of communication between the dispatcher and officers. That deputy has been placed on administrative leave."

On the same evening, the NBC Nightly News at least played a clip of Brown from the 911 recording in which he threatened to "kill my brother," but then, without including the portion in which he admitted that there was a gun in the home that he was trying to get from his brother, switched to a clip of Brown simply claiming that he was unarmed.

The report by NBC correspondent Gabe Gutierrez played edited clips of the 911 call:

GABE GUTIERREZ: Brown called 911 when he got into an argument with his brother.

AUDIO OF 911 DISPATCHER: What is the problem?

AUDIO OF ISAIAH BROWN: I'm about the kill my brother.

GUTIERREZ: But, seconds later, he told the dispatcher he had not gun on him.

AUDIO OF DISPATCHER: Do you have any weapons on you?

AUDIO OF ISAIAH BROWN: Nope.

After omitting the part of the phone call in which Brown spoke of trying to get a gun from his brother, there came a clip of Brown's sister declaring that "I tried to figure out why the officer felt so threatened by my brother."

But, picking up earlier in the 911 call, there was talk of a gun that NBC cut out:

ISAIAH: Give me the gun.

BROTHER: No, n*****, you're about to make me f****** get mad, bro, for real. I'm not playing, broh. What the f*** do you need my gun for?

ISAIAH: Can you send somebody down here?

911 DISPATCHER: What is going on, Isaiah? Why don't you just -- what is the problem?

ISAIAH: I'm about to kill my brother.

Also omitted was that Brown initially answered, "Yup," when he was asked if he had a gun before answering, "Nope," when asked if he the gun on him.

A few hours later, MSNBC host Brian Williams also ran a report omitting talk of the gun or threats to kill his brother from the 911 call.

By contrast, earlier in the day on CNN Newsroom with Ana Cabrera, reporter Brynn Gingras recounted more of the relevant details of the 911 recording for viewers:

You can hear Brown fighting with his brother, and actually asks his brother for his gun -- his brother refuses -- and then says to the dispatcher, "I'm going to kill my brother." And the dispatcher says, "Don't kill your brother -- you don't want to kill your brother" -- and then asks multiple times to Brown if he is armed, which Brown says he is not multiple times.

This episode of the NBC Nightly News was sponsored in part by Ancestry.com. Their contact information is linked.

Transcripts follow:

ABC

World News Tonight

April 26, 2021

DAVID MUIR: There is also another police shooting under investigation in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, tonight, Authorities say Isaiah Brown is in intensive care tonight after being shot 10 times by a deputy responding to a domestic incident. It is believed the deputy might have mistaken Brown's phone for a gun.

CLIP OF OFFICER (audio from body camera): Show me your hands now! Show me your hands! Drop the gun! He's got a gun to his head. Drop the gun now! Stop walking towards me! Stop walking towards me! Stop! Stop!

(sound of gun shots)

MUIR: Authorities say, at the time, Brown was actually on the phone with 911 over an argument with his brother. A family attorney calling it a failure of communication between the dispatcher and officers. That deputy has been placed on administrative leave.

(...)

NBC Nightly News

April 26, 2021

LESTER HOLT: And bodycam video also at the center of another police shooting in Virginia. A man fighting for his life after his family says a deputy mistook a cordless phone for a gun. We get more on this from Gabe Gutierrez. We have to warn you the video is disturbing.

CLIP OF OFFICER (audio from body camera): Show me your hands! Show me your hands!

GABE GUTIERREZ: The dark body camera video from a Virginia sheriff's deputy shows him confronting 32-year-old Isaiah Brown last week. 

CLIP OF OFFICER: (audio from body camera): Drop the gun! He's got a gun to his head. Drop the gun now! Stop walking towards me! Stop walking towards me! Stop! Stop!

(sound of gun shots)

GUTIERREZ: Brown survived at least seven gun shots -- turns out he was not holding a gun, but a cordless house phone. ... Earlier that night, Brown's car had broken down at a gas station, and a deputy had given him a ride home. A short time later, Brown called 911 when he got into an argument with his brother.

AUDIO OF 911 DISPATCHER: What is the problem?

AUDIO OF ISAIAH BROWN: I'm about the kill my brother.

GUTIERREZ: But, seconds later, he told the dispatcher he had not gun on him.

AUDIO OF DISPATCHER: Do you have any weapons on you?

AUDIO OF ISAIAH BROWN: Nope.

GUTIERREZ: The deputy who opened fire was the same one who had given him a ride home earlier.

DAVID HAYNES, ATTORNEY FOR BROWN FAMILY: This was clearly a failure of communication between dispatch and the deputy.

GUTIERREZ: Speaking to protesters, the Spotsylvania County sheriff highlighted the deputy performed first aid.

SHERIFF ROGER HARRIS, SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY: The deputy actually saved this gentleman's life.

GUTIERREZ: Brown's sister Yolanda told us she's still trying to process it all.

YOLANDA: After you brought him home, I tried to figure out why the officer felt so threatened by my brother.

GUTIERREZ: Tonight, the deputy, who has not been identified, is on administrative leave. A special prosecutor has been appointed, Lester.

MRC Merch

MRC Merch