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Judge Dismisses Charges Against Virginia Deputy Who Mistook Cell Phone For Gun

Spotsylvania County, VA – A Virginia judge dismissed charges on the fourth day of trial against a Spotsylvania County sheriff’s deputy who shot a man after mistaking his cell phone for a gun.

Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Deputy David Turbyfill had been charged with recklessly handling a firearm in the deputy-involved shooting last year that left then 32-year-old Isaiah Brown suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, WRC reported.

The judge dismissed the charge against Deputy Turbyfill on Feb. 9 and said the prosecution had failed to make its case against the law enforcement officer.

“There was never enough evidence to prosecute successfully this officer because his actions were within policy, within the law and reasonable under the circumstances,” Mark Bong, one of two defense attorneys who represented Deputy Turbyfill, told reporters afterward.

Deputy Turbyfill has been assigned to administrative, non-law enforcement duties at the sheriff’s department since the deputy-involved shooting, WRC reported.

But his attorneys said he will be returned to full duty quickly now that the charges against him have been dismissed.

“I think Deputy Turbyfill is going to resume his role with the sheriff’s office, and that was always his intention in this case,” Bong explained.

The Virginia State Police said the incident occurred at about 2:30 a.m. on April 21, 2021 after Brown’s car broke down at the Wawa convenience store on Route 3, WRC reported.

Deputy Turbyfill gave Brown a ride home to the 12200-block of West Catharpin Road.

Brown’s brother, Tazmon Brown, told WRC that he spoke with the deputy when his brother was dropped off.

“He was like, ‘Your brother is fine. He’s not in trouble. His car broke down and I gave him a ride,” Tazmon Brown said.

But a short while later, Brown called 911 and asked for law enforcement to respond to his home.

Sources told WRC that Brown complained to the 911 operator about a problem with his brother, WRC reported.

The sheriff’s department categorized the call as a domestic incident.

It sounded on the call like Brown was asking his brother for a gun, WRC reported.

Then he told the 911 dispatcher “I’m about to kill my brother.”

“Don’t kill your brother,” the dispatcher replied.

“Alright,” Brown said.

“Why would you say something like that?” the dispatcher asked.

“Somebody needs to come here real quick,” Brown told the 911 operator.

Brown then told the 911 operator he didn’t have a gun on him.

The same Spotsylvania County sheriff’s deputy who gave Brown a ride home a little while earlier responded to the scene, WRC reported.

Bodycam video showed Deputy Turbyfill returning to the address on Catharpin road with lights and sirens running.

“Show me your hands, show me your hands!” the deputy shouted at Brown as soon as he got out of his vehicle.

The bodycam video did not show what Brown was doing in response to the deputy’s commands because it was aimed toward the ground, but it recorded throughout the incident.

“Show me your hands, now,” the deputy yelled again the video. “Show me your hands. Drop the gun.”

Then he advised the dispatcher “He’s got a gun to his head.”

“Drop the gun now,” the deputy yelled again in the video. “Stop walking towards me. Stop walking towards me. Stop. Stop.”

It turned out that the black object in Brown’s hand was a cordless land-line telephone from inside the house and he was using it to talk to the 911 dispatcher when he was shot, WRC reported.

Brown was transported to Mary Washington Hospital and treated for multiple gunshot wounds.

Deputy Turbyfill was ultimately indicted for reckless handling of a firearm by a grand jury, WRC reported.

The charge would usually have been a misdemeanor but prosecutors charged the deputy with a felony because of the seriousness of Brown’s injuries.

Deputy Turbyfill fired his duty weapon seven times and Brown sustained 11 wounds as a result, WRC reported.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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