Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Deputy David Turbyfill has been indicted by a grand jury in Virginia for the April police shooting of unarmed Black gay man Isiah Brown.
Turbyfill faces one charge of felony reckless handling of a firearm related to the April 21 incident where he, according to Brown family attorney David Haynes, shot Brown ten times after mistaking a cordless phone held by Brown for a gun.
According to special prosecutor LaBravia Jenkins, Turbyfill’s reckless handling of a firearm charge, which is normally a misdemeanor, is being bumped up to a felony due to the level of injuries Brown suffered. According to Haynes, eight bullets were found in Brown’s body, causing “serious internal injuries” including “serious injuries to his bowels.” Haynes also stated that Brown suffered a broken leg and underwent at least four surgeries before being released from the hospital in May. Brown is continuing his recovery at home.
If found guilty, Turbyfill faces up to five years in prison. “Isiah Brown’s life was shattered and changed forever when he crossed paths with David Turbyfill,” Haynes said in a statement to The Hill. “While this indictment doesn’t take Mr. Brown’s physical pain away, it does signify a measure of justice.”
The April 21 shooting came after Turbyfill responded to a 911 call made by Brown in the early morning hours. Brown argued with his brother about retrieving his car, which had broken down at a local gas station earlier that night, and commented about killing his brother. He denied having a firearm multiple times after initially saying he had one.
Brown exited his mother’s home while still on the phone with 911 dispatch when Turbyfill, who had given Brown a ride home after his car broke down earlier that night, encountered him on the road near the home. Bodycam and 911 dispatch audio released by the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office show Turbyfill responding to the incident as if he believed Brown had a gun. According to Haynes, Turbyfill mistook the phone Brown was using to speak with 911 dispatch for a gun that Brown was holding to his head and fired multiple shots after telling Brown to stop walking toward him.
Both Virginia State Police and the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Brown was unarmed after the shooting. Turbyfill was placed on administrative leave as the police shooting was investigated.
In response to the indictment, Haynes once again called for the release of “all audio communication between the deputy and dispatch, all video from the scene as well as Turbyfill’s employment records and personnel file.” Haynes and the Brown family have made similar pleas in the months since Brown’s shooting, calling for complete transparency from the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office and filing Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain said records.
Haynes also called for the “immediate termination” of Turbyfill, who had only been employed with the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office for a few months prior to the police shooting.
When asked for comment by the Free Lance-Star, Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Maj. Troy Skebo said the Sheriff’s Office had no further comments on the matter. Spotsylvania County Sheriff Roger Harris drew criticism early in the investigation after telling a group of protestors gathered outside the Sheriff’s Office that Turbyfill “actually saved this gentleman’s life,” referring to Turbyfill performing CPR on Brown after shooting him.
“I believe that the sheriff was reporting to the fact that he performed CPR, as of course he is required and trained to do. But it is incredible that he would make that statement that he saved his life by rendering CPR after he’s the one that shot him 10 times,” Haynes said in April.