Officer mistook man's phone for a gun and "recklessly shot him eight times"

Officer mistook man's phone for a gun and "recklessly shot him eight times"

A little while before shooting the unarmed man, the same police officer had given the man a ride home after his car broke down.

Trigger warning: The story contains video footage of gunshots which might be distressing to some readers.

When Spotsylvania County Sheriff's deputy, David Turbyfill, encountered a man named Isiah Brown in the early hours of April 21, he kept giving orders to Isiah to drop his gun down immediately. "Drop the gun!" the deputy yelled at Isiah. "Drop the gun, now!" Within moments, the officer fires multiple shots at Isiah and then approaches the 32-year-old man's wounded body. Officer Turbyfill then looks around for the gun, only to realize that there is no gun at the scene.

What Isiah was actually holding in his hand was a cordless phone, which the officer mistook as a weapon before recklessly shooting the man multiple times, according to NBC News. "Isaiah was on the phone with 911 at the time of the shooting and the officer mistook a cordless house phone for a gun," said Ryan Julison, spokesman for the Cochran Firm in Los Angeles. "There is no indication that Isaiah did anything other than comply with dispatch’s orders and raised his hands with the phone in his hand as instructed."


Not long before shooting the unarmed man, officer Turbyfill himself had given Isiah a lift back home from a gas station at around 2 am after his car broke down, according to The Washington Post. Once Isiah was back home, a scuffle broke out between him and his brother. And Isiah called 911 to report the dispute and also claimed that he would kill his brother on the call.

As Isiah was walking down the road outside his house, deputy Turbyfill arrived at the scene with another officer. By around 3 am, Isiah was seen being shot to the ground by deputy Turbyfill.


At the hospital, Isiah was found to have eight bullets in his body along with two exit wounds. "[The deputy] recklessly shot him eight times," Isiah's attorney, David Haynes said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. Months after the incident, the Virginia sheriff's deputy was charged with a felony crime, and the indictment was made public on Thursday, July 15.

Deputy Turbyfill was charged with "reckless handling of firearm resulting in serious injury." A copy of the grand jury indictment said he "did unlawfully and feloniously handle (a) firearm in a manner so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life."


After the officer was charged with felony crime, a statement was released by Haynes on behalf of Isiah and his family.

"Isiah Brown and his family are pleased that Spotsylvania County Deputy David Turbyfill has been indicted on a felony charge by a special grand jury in the April 21 shooting of Mr. Brown. The shooting resulted in significant injuries to Mr. Brown which will undoubtedly impact him for the rest of his life," Haynes' statement said, as quoted by NBC12. "...Isiah Brown’s life was shattered and changed forever when he crossed paths with David Turbyfill. While this indictment doesn’t take Mr. Brown’s physical pain away, it does signify a measure of justice. We look forward to the successful prosecution of David Turbyfill."

Cover image source: (L) Spotsy SO/YouTube and (R) The Cochran Firm

Recommended for you