The estate of Andrew Brown, Jr., the unarmed Black man who died April 21 at the hands of law enforcement, has filed a $30 million federal lawsuit against a North Carolina sheriff and his deputies over the shooting. Brown, 42, was killed in Elizabeth City, N.C., when an attempt was made to serve search warrants against him.
According to Reuters, the suit alleges the Pasquotank County deputies violated Brown's Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force. While much of the encounter was captured on the body cameras worn by some of the involved deputies, North Carolina laws restricted release of the footage.
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The incident caused a number of news outlets and the family, the city and their sheriff all petitioned to permit the footage to be seen. The lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges that deputies used "intentional and reckless disregard of the life and safety of Brown," when they fired their weapons into his vehicle. The family has called the shooting an “execution.”
"Anybody can see this was the unlawful killing of Andrew Brown," family attorney Harry Daniels told a news conference after the lawsuit was filed.
A month after Brown was killed, Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble said the shooting was justified because Brown "recklessly" drove at officers while trying to flee. Sheriff Tommy Wooten said the three deputies who fired at Brown would be reinstated and retrained. One of them has since retired and the other two have rejoined the sheriff’s office.
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Last month, the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP met with officials in the Justice Department demanding the shooting be federally investigated. The DOJ however has not announced whether it will open a pattern-or-practice investigation. In addition, the FBI made its own announcement that it will conduct its own civil rights investigation.