The family of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black Elizabeth City man killed by Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies in April, is asking for more than $30 million from two sheriffs and seven deputies in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday.
Lawyers for the Brown family announced the filing of a Brown complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina at a press conference Wednesday. The suit claims that the defendants, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II and seven of his deputies deployed to arrest Brown, as well as Dare County Sheriff Doug Doughtie, violated Brown’s constitutional rights when deputies shot him in the back of his head while he was trying to flee. At that time, Brown was steering his vehicle away to avoid the deputies on a mission to serve a search warrant for illegal substances in his residence and vehicles, as well as two arrest warrants for Brown from the Dare County Sheriff’s Office.
The plaintiff’s constitutional claim relies on a 1985 U.S. Supreme Court case Tennessee vs Garner, in which former Justice Byron White wrote, “The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable.”
As Policy Watch previously reported, District Attorney Andrew Womble refused to charge the deputies, saying that the totality of the circumstance — that Brown could have struck some of the officers — justified their split-second decision to use deadly force.
WATCH: Press Conference | Federal Lawsuit to be Filed in Case of Police Killing of Andrew Brown, Jr. https://t.co/0n7dLHrZVT
— Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II (@RevDrBarber) July 14, 2021
“Womble said the case was closed, but that’s not how it works in America,” Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, said at a press conference Wednesday. “Now it’s the time to put this matter in court under the microscope of the Constitution, and the law, and not just the opinion of one DA.”
Chance Lynch, a member of the Brown family’s legal team, accused Womble of misinterpreting the law and allowing impunity. Lynch said, “It’s clearly established you cannot shoot a driver while they’re driving away from you.” Read more