The County Sheriff in Pasquotank, North Carolina has been hit with a $30-million civil rights lawsuit following the police killing of Andrew Brown Jr. — the father of seven — earlier this year.
Joe Jurado of The Root reported that “Brown, 42, died on April 21 when his BMW was surrounded by deputies [from] the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office. The deputies opened fire when Brown moved his vehicle forward with one bullet striking Brown in the head, killing him. The lawsuit alleges that Brown died due to the ‘intentional and reckless disregard of his life,’ by the deputies.”
As we reported at the time, the deputies were attempting to serve Brown with an arrest warrant when the deadly shootout broke out.
According to the new lawsuit filed in a federal court in eastern North Carolina by Brown’s paternal aunt, Lillie Brown Clark, “all individual defendants did so with shocking and willful indifference to Brown’s rights and with conscious awareness that it could cause Brown severe bodily harm or death.”
“The lawsuit names Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II and several deputies,” Jurado reported. “The deputies were cleared of criminal wrongdoing in May when District Attorney Andrew Womble said the shooting was ‘justified.’ Brown’s shooting and the lack of consequences for those who fatally shot him, has resulted in protests in Elizabeth City, where the shooting took place.”
In addition to their behavior on the day Brown was shot and killed, local officials involved in the case have also repeatedly come under fire for other questionable management surrounding the investigation into Brown’s death, including their refusal to release body cam footage out of fear it might make the department look bad. The FBI has since been called in to help further investigate the case.
Should the case continue and ultimately reach a positive verdict, Brown’s family would join an ever-growing number of families who have filed — and won — similar suits. The city of Minneapolis, for example, settled a suit with George Floyd’s family over his murder for $27 million earlier this year, while the city of Louisville settled with Breonna Taylor’s family for $12 million in 2020.