By Jamiel Lynch and Devon M. Sayers, CNN
The estate of Andrew Brown, Jr. has settled its lawsuit against a North Carolina county sheriff’s office over his shooting death during an arrest last year, according to an attorney for the estate.
Brown’s family settled with Pasquotank County for $3 million, according to attorney Bakari Sellers, who represents the family and is also a CNN political analyst.
Brown, a 42-year-old Black man, was killed April 21, 2021, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, by Pasquotank County deputies attempting to serve a warrant for his arrest. His death resulted in protests against the shooting as critics accused police of a lack of transparency.
Brown’s family is “satisfied” with the settlement, according to attorneys representing his estate in the case.
“This case was not about finance but about family,” attorney Harry Daniels said at a news conference.
“This settlement will do exactly what we intended to do and take care of Andrew Brown Jr’s children for years to come. There’s no amount of money that can recover or take place the loss that the family is experiencing and will continue to experience for years to come,” he said.
Brown has seven children, including five minors, according to the attorneys.
Due to the pending federal investigation into the case, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten answered few questions regarding the case at the news conference, but said changes have been made in the county in light of the circumstances of Brown’s fatal shooting by deputies.
Changes include advanced training for deputies and the development of a citizens’ advisory council.
Wooten said the advisory council will “look like the community we serve.”
“We train every day. It’s no secret to nobody in today’s society, law enforcement was not what it was 20 years ago,” he said.
“We have had more advance training to capitalize on de-escalation techniques,” Wooten added.
Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble later concluded the shooting — which Brown’s family described as an execution — was justified, saying Brown “recklessly” drove at the officers on the scene while trying to flee arrest.
Much of the attempted arrest was captured on body cameras worn by some of the deputies involved, however North Carolina law restricted its release without a court order. In a news conference nearly a month after Brown’s death, Womble showed videos captured by deputies.
Three of the seven deputies on scene fired a total of 14 shots at Brown, according to Womble. A state autopsy later confirmed Brown died of a gunshot wound to the back of the head.
“While the district attorney concluded that no criminal law was violated, this was a terrible and tragic outcome, and we could do better,” Wooten said, adding two deputies did not turn on their body cameras during the incident.
The three deputies who fired at Brown would be reinstated and retrained, Wooten said at the time. One of them has since retired and the other two were back on the force.
Brown’s family and their attorneys said the same body-camera and dash-camera videos show Brown was trying to drive away from officers and was not a threat.
Attorneys for Brown’s estate filed a $30 million civil rights lawsuit in July, claiming deputies violated Brown’s Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force.
An amended complaint further alleged the arrest warrant for Brown was unlawful because it was not signed by a judge. The suit also said the two ranking officers initially on the scene when Brown was confronted told investigators they did not fire their weapons because they did not see any indication Brown had a weapon. One of them told investigators he did not think Brown’s car was going to hit him, the lawsuit said.
The FBI has announced a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting.
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