Family of Black man killed by North Carolina police to get $3 million

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FILE PHOTO: Son of Andrew Brown Jr. carries a commemorative pillow after the funeral in Elizabeth City

By Brendan O’Brien

(Reuters) – A North Carolina county has agreed to settle a lawsuit and pay $3 million to the family of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man who was shot and killed by deputies as he drove away from his home in 2021, the local sheriff said in a statement.

Brown, 42, died fleeing a morning raid on April 21, 2021 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, a riverfront community where just over half of the roughly 18,000 residents are Black.

The killing captured national attention, fueling a debate over the way police use force against Black Americans. The killing came a day after the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd.

In July 2021, Brown’s family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten and the deputies, initially seeking $30 million in damages.

“I understand that there are no words I can say that will alleviate your pain. I do offer my most sincere sympathies and compassion to you as you continue to grieve the loss of Andrew Brown Jr.,” Wooten said in a statement.

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Lawyers for the family said in the same statement that the money will go to Brown’s children.

“While no settlement could ever fill the hole his death left in their hearts, this agreement is about providing for those children’s futures,” they said.

Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble declined to prosecute the deputies, saying they feared for their lives when Brown, who was sought on suspicion of selling cocaine, drove his car toward them.

A county medical examiner ruled Brown’s death a homicide. A second autopsy performed at the request of his family found that he was killed by a fatal bullet wound in the back of his head.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)