The family of an unarmed black man who was shot dead by police in North Carolina have sued the officers involved in his killing for $30 million.
Andrew Brown Jr, 42, died on April 21 when Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office deputies shot him while they were executing a drug-related warrant at Brown’s home in Elizabeth City.
Several deputies, all of whom were cleared of any wrongdoing by District Attorney Andrew Womble in May, surrounded Brown in his BMW during a confrontation. Officers fired several shots at Brown’s vehicle as he reversed while surrounded by the deputies.
Brown was killed with a bullet to the back of the head and in their civil rights lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, his family has said he died because of officers’ ‘intentional and reckless disregard of his life’.
Lawyers for the Brown family, who in May were shown just 20 minutes of two hours worth of bodycam footage from the fatal shooting, said his death was unjustified because Brown was trying to drive away – not toward – the deputies.
‘This lawsuit was easy to draft because of the facts in this case’, attorney Harry Daniels told reporters at a news conference.
‘Anybody can see that this was an unlawful killing.’
The filing is the latest in a number of similar federal civil rights lawsuits involving high-profile police shootings of African-Americans in the US.
In September the city of Louisville, in Kentucky, agreed to pay Breonna Taylor’s family $12 million and reform police practices following her death in March 2020.
Taylor, 26, was shot during an undercover drug raid at her apartment after her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, opened fire on the officers, saying that he thought they were intruders.
The death of Brown, who was a father-of-seven, came just one day after Chauvin was found guilty of Floyd’s murder in June this year.
The lawsuit was filed in US District Court by Brown’s paternal aunt, Lillie Brown Clark, the administrator for his estate.
The defendants include Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten and several other deputies.
Major Aaron Wallio of the Sheriff’s Office has said Wooten’s department ‘has no comments on the lawsuit’, reports AP.
Attorneys for Brown’s family have repeatedly said that he posed no threat and police should not have shot him.
The authorities, meanwhile, claim Brown was using his car as a ‘deadly weapon’ and caused deputies to believe it was necessary to use deadly force.
A report by Dailymail.co.uk in May found that Brown previously was charged with 100 crimes over a period of 30 years and has served eight jail terms.
In clearing the officers of wrongdoing, district attorney Womble said the deputies were justified because Brown had struck an officer with his car and nearly ran him over while ignoring commands to show his hands and get out of the vehicle.
At the time of his death, Brown was facing another possibly lengthy jail stint relating to a November 2020 arrest for allegedly selling fentanyl or heroin from a motel.
Grieving family members said Brown was unarmed and have labeled his death as an ‘execution’.
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