The lawsuit alleges that deputies unconstitutionally killed Brown, who was attempting to drive away from an arrest.
An administrator for the estate of Andrew Brown, Jr., has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that deputies violated Brown’s Fourth Amendment rights when they attempted to serve arrest and search warrants.
According to CNN, Brown—a 42-year-old African-American man—was fatally shot by Pasquotank County, North Carolina, deputies in late April.
The lawsuit seeks $31 million in compensatory and punitive damages and names as defendants Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten, seven Pasquotank deputies, and Dare County Sheriff Dough Doughtie.
“This family needs justice,” said Lilly Brown Clark, the administrator of Brown’s estate as well as his aunt.
Brown’s son, Khalil Ferebee, similarly said that what happened to his father went against right.
“What’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong, and this situation was definitely wrong,” Ferebee said. “My dad will get the justice he deserves.”
WRAL notes that Brown was shot and killed by deputies who were attempting to arrest him on drug charges. When Brown attempted to drive away from law enforcement, they opened fire, killing him.
District Attorney Andre Womble has since defended the deputies, saying Brown was essentially using his vehicle as a deadly weapon while attempting to flee.
However, attorneys for Brown’s family say that federal courts have found it unconstitutional to shoot suspects who simply attempting to flee a stop, rather than actively attacking officers with or from their car.
“We don’t believe he was a threat at any time, and, therefore, the shooting was unjustified,” family attorney Bakari Sellers said. “Most law enforcement will find what they did here in this county to be repulsive because you cannot shoot people who are going away from you.”
The lawsuit further opines that the deputies violated the Pasquotank Sheriff Department’s own policies, which prohibit personnel from firing at the occupants of moving vehicles.
Furthermore, the complaint alleges that the warrants against Brown were not even valid, since they had never been signed by a judge.
The Brown estate’s attorneys also contend that the sheriff erred by sending a squad of heavily-armed deputies to make the arrest, since Brown, Jr., had no apparent history of violence against law enforcement.
“We had to come where we believe Lady Justice is blind and will have all things be equal,” he said. “We stand in front of this federal courthouse because we believe this is where Andrew Brown will finally get justice because he did not get justice in life and so far hasn’t even gotten justice in death.”
Harry Daniels, another attorney for the Brown estate, said he and his colleagues will continue to press the sheriff’s department and local courts to release dash- and bodycam footage of Brown’s attempted arrest and the shooting.
To date, only excerpts have been released.
“Justice delayed will not be justice denied,” Daniels said. “Now that we have filed a federal lawsuit, let me be very clear in saying that I and this team have compulsory authority, federal subpoena authority, to get all the videos, all the tapes, all the recordings, all the records. And no district attorney, no county administrator and no state court can stop us from doing that because federal law trumps state law.”