Unarmed Black Man Killed By Florida Cop For Driving Without A Seatbelt
On May 8, a Volusia County deputy in Florida tried to pull over Marlon Brown, a 38-year-old father of two, for allegedly failing to wear a seatbelt while driving. When Brown fled on foot, Deland police cruisers chased after him, even though they are not supposed to chase suspects for minor offenses. When Brown cut through a vegetable garden, officer James Harris sped after and ran over Brown, killing him.
Earlier this month, a grand jury decided against prosecuting officer Harris, citing an apparent lack of evidence. Krystal Brown, Marlon’s ex-wife, has since released the police dash cam video of the incident in hopes that it will spur an independent investigation.
The video shows Harris speeding off-road around another police car in pursuit of Marlon through a backyard vegetable garden. Marlon then trips and falls but Harris keeps driving, plowing right into him. Harris then exits the car and can be heard saying, “I think he’s under the fucking car.”
Deland Chief of Police William Ridgway fired Harris on May 31st after watching a dash cam recording of the brutal encounter, but it wasn’t enough to sway a grand jury. But as CNN notes, a grand jury wasn’t the only option. Had State Attorney for Florida’s 7th judicial district R.J. Larizza felt a crime had been committed, he could have instead filed criminal charges against Harris.
Krystal and Marlon, who divorced in 2006, had two children together—Marlon Jr., 12, and Imani, 13— and remained close friends following their split. Some outlets, like the local Ocala Post, have highlighted Marlon’s criminal history and labeled him “a known felon”, which seems to imply that he perhaps deserved to be run over. Aside from the fact that Marlon’s crimes were nonviolent, Krystal explained to TheGrio why his criminal history is irrelevant:
“He was on a curfew and didn’t want to go back to jail,” Krystal Brown told theGrio, adding that the curfew stemmed from child support and other non-criminal violations. He “had been to jail, but never prison,” she said. Besides, she added, police didn’t know any of that when they saw him run from the driver’s seat into a field near several houses.
On Tuesday, the Brown family attorney, Benjamin Crump, held a press conference to criticize the state’s autopsy report, calling it “inaccurate” and “intentionally deceitful”.
The report, which attributes the cause of death to “mechanical asphyxiation,” states, “His head was bent downward toward his chest and he was compressed in that position and he was unable to breathe.” Yet somehow the report rules, “There is no evidence that (Brown) was struck by the vehicle.”
In other words, Marlon Brown, who we clearly see on video getting run over by a car, showed no physical signs of being “struck by the vehicle.” I’m no doctor, but I imagine getting run over by a car would cause quite a bit of trauma to one’s body.
If that’s not enough to arouse your suspicion, there’s also the fact that the funeral director who examined Marlon’s body says he observed clear signs physical trauma, including fractures, contradicting the autopsy report, which claimed there were “no fractures.”
It’s important to note that the autopsy was conducted by Shiping Bao, the same medical examiner who performed Trayvon Martin’s autopsy, though Brown’s autopsy report was prepared by the Volusia County Chief Medical Examiner, Maria Herrmann, based on Bao’s examination.
Shipping Boa made headlines early this month when he was fired from the Volusia County Medical Examiner’s Office, for reasons they declined to specify. Unfortunately, Boa’s response to his termination received little to no attention.
Boa accused Florida state prosecutors of throwing the Zimmerman case due to their belief that Trayvon was at fault. He is suing state prosecutor Angela Corey, the medical examiner’s office and the Sanford Police Department for $100 million for using him as a “scapegoat” for their failure to win the case, claiming that they demonstrated an indifferent and sometimes hostile attitude toward Trayvon. He also says the prosecution refused to properly prepare him for the witness stand and they showed no interest when he insisted he could scientifically prove that Zimmerman was on top of Trayvon when he was shot.
It will be interesting to see if Boa has anything to say about Marlon’s autopsy report, which was written based on his examination.
In the meantime, an officer of the law was caught on video chasing down and killing an unarmed black man, yet no criminal charges were filed. That this scenario is the rule rather than the exception is an outrage.