A traffic stop in San Bernardino ends in a police killing. The suspect’s family claims cops planted a gun

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

The family of a man who was killed in a police shooting that was recorded on body-camera video claims that San Bernardino officers planted a gun to justify the deadly force.

San Bernardino police allege Robert Brown was holding a weapon during a Dec. 27 encounter and was running away just seconds before an officer killed him. Brown’s family claims he was unarmed and accused police of planting a gun at the scene.

“There was no reason for Robert to be shot,” said attorney Brad Gage, who filed a claim on behalf of Brown’s family. “When Robert was shot, he had no gun.”

Brown’s father and sister announced Friday that they have filed a $20-million claim against the city. They allege that the shooting was unjustified, that the officer who pursued Brown violated department policy and that officials lied when they claimed the suspect, 28, was armed at the time of the killing.

The claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, was filed last week.

The allegations directly contradict the San Bernardino Police Department’s version of events. In a news release, police included video stills of the officer’s body-worn camera, circling Brown’s hands in red to indicate that he was carrying a gun.

San Bernardino police continue to investigate the shooting and could not comment on the claim or the inquiry, Sgt. Chris Gray, a spokesperson for the department, said in an email.

Gray would not comment on the allegation that police planted the gun, nor would he provide information about the employment status of the officer involved in the shooting.

According to the claim filed by Brown’s family, Officer Jackson Tubbs tried to pull over Brown on suspicion of a vehicle code infraction Dec. 27.

Brown did not stop and, in the 1200 block of Pepper Tree Lane, jumped out of his car and ran. Body-camera video shows Tubbs yelling at Brown just as he was exiting and running away.

“Stop! Get on the ground!” Tubbs says. “Get on the ground!”

Tubbs jumps over a front yard fence and continues to chase Brown to a backyard.

Body-camera video released by Brown’s family shows the officer chasing him for a short distance. Brown runs past the gate of a home and into a backyard, then jumps over a fence, using both hands to pull himself over.

“As such it was evident he was not holding any gun,” the claim reads.

Tubbs yells out, “Stop, stop!” as Brown jumps over the tall chain-link fence, lined with wood panels, the video shows.

The officer doesn’t jump over, instead shooting his gun five times through the fence, fatally wounding Brown.

Video of the Dec. 27 confrontation released by Robert Brown’s family shows San Bernardino police Officer Jackson Tubbs shooting at the fleeing suspect five times, fatally wounding him through a backyard fence.

(Brown family)

Police allege Brown was holding a 9 mm handgun that had been reported from out of state.

Brown’s family maintains in the claim that San Bernardino police “appear to have planted a gun in an attempt to claim the shooting was justified as self defense.”

“He didn’t deserve to die like that,” father Willie Brown said at a news conference. “He ran. So what? You shot him in the back? For a traffic violation? And they say he had a gun? C’mon people.”

Gage, the family attorney, said it took hours for police to find a handgun.

“We believe it was planted,” he said. “The fact that they could not find the gun for hours raises a number of questions.”

In a news release issued by the city, police allege Brown “jumped over a fence into a residential yard with a firearm in his hand.”

“The officer gave the suspect several different commands to stop and get down on the ground, but the suspect refused to listen to the officer’s orders and fled, still holding the firearm,” the statement read. “The officer continued to chase until the suspect jumped into the rear yard of another residence, and an officer involved shooting occurred.”

During the news conference, Gage said the video shows that Brown used both hands to jump over the fence, signaling that he didn’t have a weapon in his hands.

“When Robert was shot, he had no gun,” the attorney said.

Regardless of whether Brown had a weapon, Gage said, the officer opened fire as the suspect was fleeing and posing no danger to him.

The officer violated department policy by engaging in the pursuit and not relaying his location to dispatch during the chase, the attorney said.

Gage also questioned the officer’s decision to shoot through the fence.

“He doesn’t know what’s behind there, and that’s something that endangers everyone in the community,” he said.

San Bernardino police claimed that Robert Brown was carrying a 9 mm gun that was reported from out of state when an officer chased him Dec. 27.

(Brown family)

Speaking to reporters Friday, Brown’s father said the family is looking to hold the department and the officer accountable.

“I want him just to be accountable,” he said. “They’re murderers, simple as that.”

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.