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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Suspect in Rainier Beach Traffic Circle Death Arrested

posted by on July 16 at 13:26 PM

Seattle Police have arrested 28-year-old Brian Keith Brown for his alleged involvement in a fight last week, which led to the death of a 60-year-old South Seattle man.

Brian Keith Brown’s family contacted the Seattle branch of the NAACP, which helped coordinate his arrest, said Seattle police Director John Hayes. Officials with the NAACP and the Seattle Medium newspaper called police this morning and said Brown wanted to turn himself in; he was arrested around noon at Mount Zion Baptist Church, Hayes said.

Brown, 28, is accused of knocking James Paroline, 60, to the ground with a single punch last Wednesday night after he intervened in a dispute Paroline was having with the girls, authorities said. Paroline, a retiree who was tending the flowers inside the traffic circle, died the next day. Brown, who has a criminal history that includes two convictions for third-degree assault, was charged Monday with second-degree murder in Paroline’s death..

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Why on earth was the NAACP involved?

Posted by Chris | July 16, 2008 1:47 PM

National Association for the Apprehension of Colored People?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | July 16, 2008 1:50 PM


Because if it had been a 60-year-old white guy punching a 20 something black man, there wouldn't even have been an arrest.

Especially if the black man was committing disorderly conduct (illegally putting traffic cones in the street) and double extra crazy especially if the black man had been committing assault (spraying people with hoses, pushing, etc.).

Posted by Andrew | July 16, 2008 1:52 PM

I don't think he should necessarily have been charged with murder. He punched the guy once and then left, and the victim died the next day. Usually people don't die from one punch, and it really doesn't seem like he intended to commit murder at all.

Posted by sepiolida | July 16, 2008 1:55 PM

That's not that unusual, Chris. One of the NAACP's missions is to protect the legal/Constitutional rights of minorities, and they'd not be bad people to have on hand if you were a young black man about to surrender yourself to the police on a charge of murdering an old white guy.

Posted by Jane | July 16, 2008 1:56 PM

3- pssss.
Because if it had been a 60-year-old white guy punching a 20 something black man, there wouldn't even have been an arrest.

Uh, when was the last time a 60yr old white guy punched a 20 year old black man?
You are full of shit. If a 20 yr old white man punched a 60 yr old black man we would be calling it a HATE CRIME. The reality is that a disproporinate amount of people who think it's okay to lynch someone for getting attitude with them are black.

Posted by jane doe | July 16, 2008 2:06 PM

@1 Isn't it obvious?

Brother had to ensure that he wasn't beat to shit for his actions by a bunch of vigilantes.

Doesn't every nigga who is worried about retribution seek out the National Association for the Advancement of Coldblooded Pussies to ensure their case gets high profile, and maybe some opportunistic leech of a wanna be lawyer will offer free legal services to the guy who can't afford his own attorney.

I'm sure we'll all see someone make a claim that he was "oppressed" or "baited into" doing it, or that because he is black he felt that he was protecting his people.

Maybe Nancy Grace can put him on TV to tell us about his problems? The more publicity he can get the better.

I'd suggest we just put him in maximum lockup for a year. Then when the new light rail starts running thru Rainier, we can tie him up to the tracks and watch him die a nice slow death as he gets cut in half.

That would be justice.

Posted by Is it Racist to speak the Truth? | July 16, 2008 2:06 PM

shouldnt the charge be manslaugher? im glad they caught him, but murder seems a stretch. not that im excusing this atrocious behaviour, no one should ever punch an old gentleman, specially if youre younger and stronger, but murder is a whole different animal, it sounds like he meant to hurt the guy, but not kill him. maybe im wrong, but i would have thought manslaughter was the charge here. but with as much press as this crime received, im sure the pa's office is trying to look tough on crime. too bad they didnt do the same with the green river killer.

Posted by SeMe | July 16, 2008 2:07 PM

the african american community is not justifying this nor is the involvement of the NAACP suggest that they are approving his behaviour, they were merely called and they called the police like a good civic organization. it seems like a good action, and simply complying with a civic obligation. when white criminals are turned over by their pastors , im sure you mofos dont cry foul.

it never ceases to amaze me how cases like this bring out the racists in slog. it seems like a lot of whites use it as an opportunity to say, look how fucked up they are, see we told u so..

racist crap no matter how you try to disguise yourselves as liberal pragmatists.

Posted by SeMe | July 16, 2008 2:14 PM

Brown was charged with second-degree murder because, based on the facts reported in the media so far, he appears to be guilty of it.

RCW 9A.32.050:

"Murder in the second degree.
(1) A person is guilty of murder in the second degree when:

(b) He or she commits or attempts to commit any felony, including assault, other than those enumerated in RCW 9A.32.030(1)(c), and, in the course of and in furtherance of such crime or in immediate flight therefrom, he or she, or another participant, causes the death of a person other than one of the participants ...

This is the "felony murder" rule, based on Brown's assault of Paroline (a felony) and Paroline's subsequent death as a result of the assault.

The State Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that assault could not be a predicate felony for felony murder, as the statute was written at the time, but the Legislature in 2003 amended RCW 9A.32.050 to once again allow assault that results in death to be charged as second-degree murder.

Posted by qwerty | July 16, 2008 2:16 PM

@3 what a crock. If someone dies from an assault (2nd degree murder, btw) there'll be an arrest, no matter what the skin colors of the parties involved are.

The PC reactions to the media coverage of this particularly ugly incident are quite baffling to me.

Posted by boyd main | July 16, 2008 2:17 PM

@9, I'm pretty much with you on this one, SeMe.

The NAACP is a visible leader in the AfAm community and doesn't control the motivations of people who might come to it seeking its support/counsel/whatever.

At this point, the NAACP has convinced a (hard core) criminal facing new charges to surrender. What in the world is worth criticizing about that? Suspect surrenders, suspect off the streets...a win for everyone.

There's been no Shaprton-esque Brawley-aching. No race baiting. No accusations of "whitey made him do it."

The only racism so far is in some of these posts. Personally, I'm glad the NAACP exists and that they did what they did in regard to this developing case. If circumstances change, I'll adjust my view but for now, that's what I see.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | July 16, 2008 2:20 PM

@7: You're a real piece of work, you know that? What are you, David Duke's fluffer?

Posted by Greg | July 16, 2008 2:22 PM

@4 and @8: the facts make this a near textbook case for filing under our state's felony murder (aka Murder 2) statute. The underlying intent was to commit what amounts to felony assault, and it resulted in the death of the victim.

And FWIW, who gives a shit what race either one of them was. People who get violent over something as stupid as a traffic dispute are not black or white -- they're the color of fuckwad.

(However, if I were black and had been accused of this kind of crime, I'd probably turn myself in through the NAACP as well. Why take chances?)

Posted by Not Race, Just Stupidity | July 16, 2008 2:23 PM

Note to young people: do not punch the elderly. Nothing good will come of it.

Posted by Hernandez | July 16, 2008 2:23 PM

I'm with SeMe on this one. No way a 2nd-degree murder charge can ever stick. Murder requires intent to kill. Punching a guy once is not intent to kill.

Posted by Graham | July 16, 2008 2:25 PM


I've been punched by 50~60 year old white men before so you are dipshit racist.

Posted by Andrew | July 16, 2008 2:26 PM

Just because they're a pain in the butt, doesn't mean people should go shooting traffic circles.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 16, 2008 2:27 PM

@16, you'd better re-read the RCW posted above again.

2nd degree murder all the way - intent to kill has nothing to do with it.

Posted by Duh | July 16, 2008 2:29 PM

#7 - people like you is one of the reasons why the NAACP exists. Your "truth" is dangerous.

The cop arresting him was Lt. Hayes who is a respected commnity leader and who happens to be African American.

Posted by CommonKnowledge | July 16, 2008 2:34 PM

A thug is a thug, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc:

Brown, who had completed his GED and most recently lived in Renton, has a criminal history dating to 1998, including guilty pleas for second-degree malicious mischief, felony assault and third-degree theft. The 28-year-old also pleaded guilty to a 1999 drug charge in King County Superior Court.
In June 2004, Brown head-butted a woman in the laundry room of her Renton apartment building. The victim, who had dated Brown's then-girlfriend, told police Brown "jumped on her and choked her with such force that she could not breathe and thought she was going to die," according to court documents.

Posted by john cocktosin | July 16, 2008 2:39 PM

What SeMe @9 and Jube @12 said.

Posted by lostboy | July 16, 2008 2:41 PM

I'm with SeMe @9. No one is justifying this attack. The NAACP has orchestrated a peaceful surrender, which is a positive result. That's a good thing. And the bizarre outburst of racism on Slog is every bit as scary as the idea that you could be attacked in your own street.

Posted by Fnarf | July 16, 2008 2:51 PM

Note to young people: Think of the worst case scenario of everything you do before you do it and if you decide you can live with the consequences then proceed. This includes joining the military.

Posted by monkey | July 16, 2008 2:53 PM

thx qwerty@10. it sounds that based on state law, that charge will stick and the pa will bring that one forth.

it seems to me that before that change by the legislature that manslaughter would have applied. who knows. it just seems to me that the intent was not to kill and i always thought that there had to be an attempt to kill. he punched the man once. regardless, no tears will be shed by anyone other than his family if he is found guilty.

Posted by SeMe | July 16, 2008 2:53 PM

@4: The Eggshell Skull doctrine, from wikipedia:

The eggshell skull rule (or thin-skull rule) is a legal doctrine [...] that holds an individual liable for all consequences resulting from his or her activities leading to an injury to another person, even if the victim suffers an unusually high level of damage (e.g. due to a pre-existing vulnerability or medical condition). The term implies that if a person had a skull as delicate as the shell of an egg, and a tortfeasor or assailant who did not know of that condition were to hit that person on the head, causing the skull unexpectedly to break, the responsible party would be held liable for all damages resulting from the wrongful contact, even though they were not foreseeable.
Posted by Ben W. | July 16, 2008 2:54 PM

@3 Bullshit - if the races were reversed in this case we'd have Sharpton and Jackson bellowing on CNN about how this was a hate crime. Fuck that shit.

Posted by Nathan Sherman | July 16, 2008 3:16 PM

You need to watch more TV, SeMe! Haven't you seen the episodes of "Law & Order" where, for example, a bank manager has a heart attack from the shock of seeing his bank vault ripped open and robbed, and when the robbers are caught, they're charged with felony murder even though they didn't lay a hand on him? Intent to kill isn't relevant when you're committing another felony -- your crime led to someone's death, thus you are charged with murder. That even works if the bank manager doesn't have his heart attack until the next day, incidentally, as long as an attorney can link the two things (the death and the crime). At least, it does on TV! Just ask Sam Waterston.

I'm not saying I think Brian should be convicted of murder, though -- I'd like to know, for example, if the girls lied to him about the old man physically assaulting one of them. If they did, I'd also like to see those girls charged with a crime, quite frankly.

Posted by Jane | July 16, 2008 3:21 PM

Sepiolida wrote:

He punched the guy once and then left, and the victim died the next day. Usually people don't die from one punch

He knocked the man to the ground, watched the man's head hit the pavement, then left the scene of the crime.

When you hit someone's head with enough force, there's a good chance he's going to fall over. When you knock someone over onto a hard surface, there's a good chance he's going to hit his head, and there's a good chance that this will result in severe injury or death.

it really doesn't seem like he intended to commit murder at all

I agree.

But then again, what is the intent of striking someone's head with all your strength? If you go around hitting people in the head, you're going to do a lot of damage -- possibly murder someone -- and it's reasonable for the rest of us to expect you to know that. If this punk gets convicted of murder, maybe the next one who feels like getting similarly aggressive will make a better decision.

Assuming a judge or jury finds that things happened the way we've been led to believe they did, I hope we take a non-violent drug law offender out of prison and lock this guy up instead. He reportedly has a history of violence and we've given him plenty of warnings and chances to clean up his act, yet he still feels it's appropriate to go around hitting people. Good riddance.

Posted by Phil M | July 16, 2008 3:23 PM

@3 You're absolutely right -- that old man deserved to die for tending flowers in a traffic circle. I'm assuming your utterly justified killing spree of people who annoy you will be commencing any time now?

Isn't it weirdly pre-OJ to defend black killers just because their victims are white? And that's not racist how, exactly?

Posted by whatevernevermind | July 16, 2008 3:34 PM

It just seems like everything in this situation was handled really badly. However, even though the girls told Brown that they had been assaulted, he had no reason to punch Paroline.

There's no way he can make a self-defense argument for this, and even though he didn't intentionally try to kill Paroline he did intentionally hit him and recklessly cause his death, so the Murder 2 charge will probably stick, and with his record I doubt he will be offered a deal from the prosecution. His best bet might be to just plead guilty, perhaps that will win him a little leniency but not much.

I do think Brown needs to be held accountable for this, and I'm really disgusted at the racist trolls out there jumping to conclusions. I'm with SeMe, Mr. Cornball and Fnarf on this; he turned himself in. I don't think anyone in the local civil rights leadership is stupid enough to try to make this an issue.

Posted by asteria | July 16, 2008 3:39 PM

Is it racist to speak the Truth has provided us with the two things you can count on in this world: trolling and racism.

Posted by Negress | July 16, 2008 3:57 PM

Also, I wasn't surprised to read that Brown's mother was in prison when he was a child and he grew up in foster care. A child with a parent in prison is much more likely to grow up and also commit crimes and go to prison.

This isn't an excuse for what Brown did, but it's a problem and I'm glad there are some organizations trying to break that cycle, including the Girl Scouts.

Posted by asteria | July 16, 2008 3:57 PM


I think you need to take a deep breath, then go back and read what was actually written @3.

Posted by povertyrich | July 16, 2008 4:04 PM

@33: You're saying that this could have been avoided had Brown been a Girl Scout?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | July 16, 2008 4:18 PM

Well isn't this nice, we're having a conversation about race.

So, when people call someone else racist, could you tell us what comment they made that is racist and why?

Also please rate it 1-10 on the scale of good and evil.

Then, rate being a person who assaults people in the head 1-10 on the scale of good and evil.

Why does one or the other bother you more?

Essays will be due in thirty minutes.

Posted by PC | July 16, 2008 4:19 PM

@35 I didn't say that but yes, if Brown was a Girl Scout this wouldn't have happened. There are no badges for punching people.

Posted by asteria | July 16, 2008 4:37 PM

All but one of the girls involved have previous records. Look them up:

Posted by Aquanetta | July 16, 2008 5:31 PM

Shame on all of you for turning this into a RACE issue, this is clearly an AGE issue. The young preying on the old.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | July 16, 2008 7:56 PM

One-punch (or even one-push) fights routinely result in fatal skull-to-pavement contact.

The exact charge wouldn't seem to matter much, though, as the accused is already in third strike territory.

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 16, 2008 7:59 PM

Thank you for mentioning the previous run-ins these girls had with the law (and one of them had her kids with her when she was being an obnoxious bitch). Isn't it racist to call in the NAACP? Doesn't that presume a black man needs special protection and representation because whitey's bound to be prejudiced? I suppose, if I've had more negative encounters with black folk than white folk I may begin to suspect the next black person I see might treat me in a less than civil manner,or vice versa - but does that make me a racist? No - that makes me a human being. Because that's what a human brain does - it GENERALIZES. It's evolution baby - it's all about survival, like it or not. So fuck my racist brain.Do people actually hate skin COLOR??!! It's about CULTURE people - the way of living and being in the world - color is simply a visual detail - and an unimportant one. A culture can consist of the individuals in ONE neighborhood. It revolves around their MORALS. It revolves around their VALUES. The subsequent behavior follows along those lines. "Race"(as if there were such a thing in reality) has nothing to do with it.

Posted by L. | July 16, 2008 8:11 PM

I want to know why the young "ladies" who started this altercation haven't been charged. Why are they not in trouble? They, not James Paroline, started this trouble and called Mr. Brown in with the lie about an assault. Can they be charged with a crime and what would they be charged with?

Posted by Y.F. | July 16, 2008 9:02 PM


what a bunch of weak as b*tches.

so what did the NAACP work out? that when he gets thrown in jail, it's not near a bunch of skinheads?

Posted by mike | July 16, 2008 9:28 PM


Doesn't that presume a black man needs special protection and representation because whitey's bound to be prejudiced?

Given SPD's track record on murdering black men, I would say that's a logical presumption to make.

Posted by frigidpony | July 17, 2008 9:01 AM

Hold up.
None of us were there - we will never know the truth. All that matters is that somebody tragically died as the result of foolish behavior, from an action that usually does not have such serious consequences - this was a tragic anomaly that now cannot be revoked. At least Brown respectfully turned himself in.
A witness's statement:
"He shouldn't have put the cones in the street. She should have just driven the other way. He shouldn't have sprayed her. (The assailant) shouldn't have hit him."
This case is an instance of logic lost, not unlike any man who I have met who would KO another man if he felt like they were protecting someone else. Brown certainly did mean to inflict harm, but I would surmise that he did not arrive there to kill the man. Furthermore, how can we automatically assume that an old man gardening is some idyllic character who was minding his own business and too feeble to do anything? I have so much love and respect for my elders, but seriously, sixty is not that old. My father is there and he could take a hit like a champ and then throw back some of his own at any strapping young cat. Sixty is before retirement. Sixty does not mean that you are necessarily feeble and using a walker. Also, sixty year olds are capable of spewing negativity - hateful people are hateful people, no matter what age or colour. I am not saying that Paroline was hateful, but he has been described as a "curmudgeon" and a bit of a thorn at least. A man who had a confrontation with Paroline about the cone sometime before those girls felt so compelled by Paroline's refusal to move it that he called 911. None of this means that Paroline deserved what happened, but there is a very real likelihood that this all could have been avoided if he had just moved the silly cone as people had requested - after all, they were on the lawful side of things - they did not want to have to illegally drive around the wrong side of the roundabout just because Paroline did not want his hose that he was electing to drag out into a public street to be run-over.
And why does everyone have to come down on recognizing social inequities? Racism is a very real problem in this country - and it is so complicated and it is so embedded and it is so difficult to extricate from other factors that people do not directly correlate with ethnicity. Urban poverty is disproportionately represented by our black and brown sisters and brothers. And it is not simple. Brown most likely brought in the NAACP to help with his representation because we all know that public defenders are overstretched, also to facilitate the turn-in because the police can be so intentionally foul, so often. It is not an excuse - Brown is a grown man and could have made a more "logical" decision - but he did not stab the man, he did not shoot him, or keep beating him in the dirt - he fucked up in the most severe of terms.
Let's not have two lives destroyed by this strange happening. Do not lock Brown up and throw away the key - get him in the community to help - get him to contribute to the neighborhood. Nothing will bring back Mr. Paroline. Let's make some good of this.

Posted by laosita | July 18, 2008 7:28 AM

Laosita wrote:

somebody tragically died as the result of foolish behavior, from an action that usually does not have such serious consequences


He hit someone who was standing on a paved surface -- in the head -- hard enough to knock him over. That often has serious consequences.

Posted by Phil M | July 18, 2008 8:36 AM

I'm one nigga who say this black coward deserves everything he get. Beat your ho but don't beat a Vietnam veteran watering flowers!

Posted by Gang Sta | July 18, 2008 1:21 PM

Hey frigid pony! You're the reason this country of ours is going in the toilet!

This two-time felon and black coward killed a man. No accident! No self-defense!

So he goes to prison and takes it in the ass for 20 years like a good boy! The NAACP should join him!

But you want to get him "in the community to help - get him to contribute to the neighborhood"!? Are you friggin' insane? You no doubt voted for Gore and Kerry, and I'll bet Obama is your hero too!!

He's a no good punk who does not belong in a community. He's a taker. He's just another useless punk ass black coward.

Posted by Semprfiguy | July 18, 2008 1:34 PM

Phil M: I agree and apologize if my comment seemed so nonchalant - of course there are often serious consequences. But I have seen many, many people get hit hard enough to get knocked over while standing on pavement - including with blunt force objects, not just a fist - none of them died - most of them got back up immediately. All I am saying is that it is rare that people get punched once and die. I am not condoning it - it is a stupid, foolish thing to do. I am just saying that from my personal perspective these things do not bear such acutely tragic results.

Semprfiguy: Thank you for your clever retort - I just love a man who can articulate so well as you - you have definitely convinced me to join you in your superior and well-thought doctrine.
P.S. - I did not vote for Gore, I did not vote for Kerry, and Obama is not my hero (and neither is Hilary or Ralph, in case you were about to go there).
Keep on doing what you are doing - no doubt you must live an amazing and fulfilling life.

Posted by laosita | July 19, 2008 5:38 AM

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