Brown was shot and killed by Pasquotank County deputies while trying to escape a drug raid.
A North Carolina sheriff’s department has announced a $3 million settlement with the family of an African-American man who was shot and killed inside his own car.
According to National Public Radio, the lawsuit was filed by the family of Andrew Brown, Jr., in 2021.
In their complaint, which sought damages of up to $30 million, the families said that Brown died because sheriff’s deputies showed “intentional and reckless disregard of life.”
Brown, says N.P.R., was confronted by Pasquotank County deputies as they executed a series of drug-related search warrants at his Elizabeth City home.
Several deputies surrounded Brown’s B.M.W. before the vehicle backed up and attempted to move forward.
When Brown’s vehicle began moving—albeit at a low speed—they opened fire, shooting at and into his vehicle.
Brown was killed by a single shot to the back of his head.
Pasquotank officials initially defended the deputies’ response, saying that Brown attempted to use his car as a “deadly weapon.”
However, attorneys for the family say the shooting was unjustified, as Brown was trying to escape.
The lawsuit notes that Brown was shot when he was driving away from the deputies, rather than toward them.
Brown family attorneys said that a careful review of deputies’ body camera footage showed Brown sitting in his car, stationary, with his hands on the wheel when law enforcement personnel opened fire.
“Andrew Brown Jr. was a devoted father who wanted his children to have the things he didn’t,” the Brown family’s attorneys said in a statement. “While no settlement could ever fill the hole his death left in their hearts, this agreement is about providing for those children’s futures, securing their education and ensuring their dreams didn’t die with their father.”
Harry Daniels, among the family’s several attorneys, stressed that the lawsuit was never about money.
“This case was not about finance but about family,” Daniels said at a news conference.
“This settlement will do exactly what we intended to do and take care of Andrew Brown Jr’s children for years to come,” he added. “There’s no amount of money that can recover or take place the loss that the family is experiencing and will continue to experience for years to come.”
Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten said that the department has already enacted procedural changes, including additional, “advanced” training for deputies, and the development of a citizens’ advisory council.
Wooten said that the council will “look like the community we serve.”
“We train every day,” the sheriff said. “It’s no secret to nobody in today’s society, law enforcement was not what it was 20 years ago.”
“We have had more advance training to capitalize on de-escalation techniques,” Wooten added, seemingly admitting that his deputies had options other than opening fire.
“While the district attorney concluded that no criminal law was violated, this was a terrible and tragic outcome, and we could do better,” he said.