The family of Andrew Brown Jr. has reached a $3 million settlement in a civil rights lawsuit filed in connection with his slaying at the hands of sheriff’s deputies in northeastern North Carolina. Brown’s family say he was unarmed when he was swarmed by deputies and hit with a barrage of bullets.
“They’re still grieving and they’re still dealing with the death of their loved one,” said Shantell Cherry-Lassiter, one of the attorneys representing the Brown family.
On April 21, 2021, Andrew Brown Jr. was behind the wheel of his car in the driveway of his Elizabeth City, North Carolina, home when Pasquotank County Sheriff’s deputies pulled up in force to arrest him and execute a search warrant at the residence.
Brown reacted by putting his car in reserve to get away, as deputies who came running up with their guns drawn and yelling commands. Within seconds, the deputies began firing, and Brown was hit with a slew of bullets from deputies’ guns as he crossed his lawn in his car, including once in the back of the head.
Last July, Brown’s family filed a civil rights lawsuit against the deputies, claiming the shooting was unjustified because Brown was unarmed and was trying to drive away from deputies in his BMW, not toward them. The district attorney who reviewed the case last year cleared the seven deputies of wrongdoing, claiming Brown used his car as a deadly weapon causing deputies to believe deadly force was necessary.
Brown’s family said when he was shot, he was sitting in his car with his hands on the steering wheel.
“As far as the grief, and just getting through what they’ve been dealing with the past year and some months, they’re still having to deal with that and they’ll have to deal with that for some months to come,” said Harry Daniels, one of the attorneys representing the Brown family.
Attorneys Daniels and Cherry-Lassiter say as part of the lawsuit settlement, the family agreed to dismiss all claims and potential liability against the defendants and individual deputies involved in Brown’s shooting, a common practice according to Daniels.
“You settle the matter then you dismiss or release all defendants in the matter, that’s common language,” said Daniels.
The $3 million dollars will go to Brown’s heirs, his seven children who range in age from 8 to 25.
“I don’t know what his last thoughts were going through his head, I’m sure it probably had something to do with his children, oh my God, what about my children. Today, as far as their financial future, it’s taken care of for years to come,” Daniels said of the money going to Brown’s children.
Brown was killed by deputies the same day Derek Chauvin was found guilty in the murder of George Floyd. Daniels says, the string of police brutality against African-Americans continues to be a problem plaguing Black America, and only more criminal prosecutions against police will bring about change.
“It’s a continuous cycle, it’s a cycle that needs to be broken, a civil suit is a suit, a civil suit is not the remedy to prevent this, a criminal prosecution, prison, is the remedy,” Daniels said.
Daniels also says although the civil suit in Brown’s case is resolved, the deputies involved must contend with a federal investigation stemming from the shooting. The FBI opened its own probe in April 2021.
“As to whether these officers will be charged with a crime, that’s up to the Department of Justice but as it relates to the civil matter, that is complete,” Daniels said.