ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — The Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office has settled a civil rights lawsuit following the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City.
According to a release from the sheriff’s office Monday, the parties in the federal lawsuit brought by the Estate of Andrew Brown Jr. have reached an agreement to settle the lawsuit for $3 million.
Back in July 2021, the attorneys for Brown’s family initially filed the lawsuit seeking more than $30 million in compensatory and punitive damages for “emotional distress, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, and other pain and suffering.”
The lawsuit alleged wrongful death and excessive force by personnel from the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office. They were serving arrest and search warrants on April 21, 2021, at a home on Perry Street. As Brown was driving away they fired a fatal shot, but no one was charged in Brown’s death.
Following the settlement, Pasquotank County’s insurance policy, which was provided by the North Carolina Counties Liability and Property Joint Risk Management Agency, will pay the limits of its policy, which is $2 million.
The remaining $1 million will be paid by a special appropriation approved by the Pasquotank County
Board of Commissioners.
According to the sheriff’s office, the payments will resolve “any and all potential liability against the defendants and any individual officers who were or could be named as defendants in the lawsuit.”
Brown’s children will share the proceeds of the settlement as heirs to his estate.
The plaintiff will later enter into a stipulation of voluntary dismissal of all claims against the
defendants, the Pasquotank County Sheriff and three deputy sheriffs, as well as any other potential
claims arising from Brown’s death.
The dismissal will be filed with the federal court later this month and the parties will release the settlement agreement to the public.
In the 14 months since Andrew Brown Jr.’s death, the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office has changed the way deputies train, focusing on advanced de-escalation techniques and how to communicate with minors and minorities. A Citizen’s Advisory Board of 13 civilians has also been created to oversee the Sheriff’s Office and repair relationships between the community and law enforcement.
At the end of the release, Pasquotank County Sheriff Wooten offered his sympathies to the Brown
“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 the same release, the attorneys for the Brown family, Bakari Sellers, Harry Daniels, Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, Chance Lynch, and Ben Crump, issued a statement accepting the settlement.
“While no settlement could ever fill the hole his death left in their hearts, this agreement is about
providing for those children’s futures, securing their education, and ensuring their dreams didn’t die
with their father,” they said.
Eddie Graham, who’s running for Pasquotank County Sheriff, released this statement:
Sheriff Tommy Wooten announced on Monday in a late day news release a $3 million settlement with the Andrew Brown, Jr. Estate. This settlement agreement approved by the County Commissioners tapped out the county’s liability insurance policies — showing the lack of leadership, the lack of proper training and the lack of accountable protocols have been very expensive for the taxpayers of this county.
Mr. Brown’s death could have and should have been avoided. Now, the entire county, state and country are seeing the cost of this negligence, incompetence, and malfeasance.
Adding insult to injury is the simple fact that the family nor the community has never heard the words “We’re Sorry.”
This $3 million settlement will benefit Mr. Brown’s family and his children. It is also a painful reminder of the impact one man, one sheriff can have on a county.
This settlement is just another chapter in the terrible fatal shooting of Mr. Brown. Hopefully, in November the people of Pasquotank County will write the final chapter with the defeat of Mr. Wooten and his administration of justice.Eddie Graham