The Department of Corrections in the State of Washington agreed to pay $3 million to the family of a boy killed by a gang member out on a community supervision program.
The wrongful death lawsuit was filed in 2014, four years after the violent death of 12-year old Alajawan Brown in Skyway.
Brown had stepped off a bus on April 29th, 2010, holding a pair of football cleats. The boy had been saving money his neighbors paid in exchange for lawn work.
Walking through a 7-Eleven parking lot, Brown was spotted by Curtis Walker, a member of the Blood Pirus street gang. Walker had been involved in a shootout with members of the rival Crips gang at a nearby apartment complex and allegedly mistook the 12-year old boy for one of the opposing gunmen. His car stopped at a red light, the Blood exited his vehicle and fired twice at Alajawan.
The boy was “struck once in the back.” Seattle news network KIRO 7 reported that, as Brown “lay dying on the asphalt,” somebody stole the pair of cleats he’d just purchased from a nearby Wal-Mart.
Just under two years later, in March of 2012, Curtis Walker was found guilty of Brown’s murder as well as unlawful possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
The lawsuit against the Department of Corrections stems from the Brown family’s belief that Walker had been inadequately supervised while partaking in a community supervision program.
Attorneys representing the family dug into the circumstances surrounding Walker’s participation in the program.
They learned that Curtis Walker, who had been serving a sentence related to drug crimes, had been flagrantly violating the terms of his supervision. Only eight days before Alajawan Brown was shot dead in a 7-Eleven parking lot, a “concerned citizen” had called the police to report that Walker had “assaulted his girlfriend, threatened her with a gun and was believed to be selling marijuana out of his apartment.”
The gang member had also “refused to answer the door when his community-corrections officer attempted to make home visits,” wrote Sara Jean Green of The Seattle Times. That constituted another violation of the terms governing the community supervision program.
The Brown family hired attorneys Nate Roberts and co-counsel Evan Fuller to assist them in filing a suit against the state Department of Corrections.
“They let him have way too long of a leash. He’s a known gang member, and he’s doing the two things he’s absolutely not allowed to be doing – selling drugs and possessing firearms – and they let him get away with that,” said Roberts, as reported by The Seattle Times. “It’s maddening to see that.”
When the family filed a legal action against the Department of Corrections in 2014, the DoC tried arguing that the three-year statute of limitations on the lawsuit had elapsed, given that Brown had been killed in 2010.
In December, “a panel of appellate judges unanimously sided with Brown, holding that the clock didn’t start ticking on the statute of limitations until Walker was found guilty of Alajawan’s murder” in 2012.
Roberts, speaking of the lawsuit on behalf of the Brown family, said, “It’s bittersweet.”
“They’re happy this chapter in the book is closed, but it also brings back the crippling grief. They would give everything in the world to have another day with their boy,” he said.