Jul 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Andrew Brown Jr.'s family files $30M civil rights lawsuit against police

Photo of a crowd of masked protesters with signs, including a white one with the text "Andrew Brown matters"
Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Andrew Brown Jr.'s family has filed a $30 million lawsuit against a North Carolina county sheriff and several deputies, arguing the officers involved in Brown's fatal shooting acted "willfully, maliciously, in bad faith, and in reckless disregard of Brown’s federally protected constitutional rights."

Why it matters: Brown was shot and killed April 21 by Pasquotank County Sheriff’s deputies as they were serving drug-related warrants. A state autopsy found he died of a gunshot wound to the back of his head.

  • The report listed "homicide" as Brown's cause of death. Video footage shows him backing up his car before driving away from the deputies, who fired several shots at and into the vehicle.
  • A North Carolina prosecutor concluded the shooting was "justified."

What they're saying: "All individual Defendants unlawfully seized Brown by means of objectively unreasonable, excessive and conscious shocking physical force," the lawsuit states.

  • "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."
  • The family's suit was filed in a federal North Carolina court.

"We didn’t feel as if we could get justice in the sheriff’s office. We didn’t feel as if we could get justice in the state court. So we had to come where we believe lady justice will be blind and have all things be equal," family attorney Bakari Sellers said at a news conference Wednesday.

The big picture: This lawsuit is the latest in a slew of civil rights lawsuits in response to police killings of Black people.

Worth noting: The FBI also launched a civil rights investigation into Brown's death.

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