The family of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man fatally shot by deputies in North Carolina earlier this year, has filed a $30 million federal civil rights lawsuit.
According to NBC News, Brown, 42, died on April 21 when his BMW was surrounded by deputies with the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office. The deputies opened fire when Brown moved his vehicle forward with one bullet striking Brown in the head, killing him. The lawsuit alleges that Brown died due to the “intentional and reckless disregard of his life,” by the deputies.
“All individual defendants did so with shocking and willful indifference to Brown’s rights and with conscious awareness that it could cause Brown severe bodily harm or death,” according to the lawsuit filed in a federal court in eastern North Carolina. The suit was filed by Lillie Brown Clark, Brown’s paternal aunt. According to the suit, Brown was the father of seven kids.
The lawsuit names Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II and several deputies. The deputies were cleared of criminal wrongdoing in May when District Attorney Andrew Womble said the shooting was “justified.” Brown’s shooting and the lack of consequences for those who fatally shot him, has resulted in protests in Elizabeth City, where the shooting took place.
There’s also been controversy over the way the case has been handled by local authorities, with a judge refusing to release body camera footage of the shooting because, no joke, it wouldn’t look good on the cops. The FBI has since opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting.
Lawsuits like this have become increasingly common after police shootings. They often settle with the family for large sums of money but with no admission of guilt from the parties involved. The city of Minneapolis settled a similar suit with George Floyd’s family for $27 million earlier this year, and last September the city of Louisville agreed to pay Breonna Taylor’s family $12 million and enact a series of police reforms.
You would think having to pay out millions of dollars as a result of entirely avoidable deaths would inspire cities to enact more serious police reform. You would think.