Family of North Carolina man Andrew Brown Jr. reaches $3M settlement over police shooting

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North Carolina authorities have agreed to pay a $3 million settlement to the family of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man shot and killed by deputies serving a serving drug-related warrants in April 2021. 

The shooting captured national attention when civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who secured the record $27 million settlement for the family of George Floyd, descended on the rural northeastern North Carolina community of Elizabeth City, that saw weeks of racial justice protests in response to Brown’s killing. 

The settlement, announced by the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office Monday, is far less than the initial $30 million sought by the family of Brown Jr. in the hefty federal civil rights lawsuit filed last year. 

Deputies attempting to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants shot and killed Brown outside his Elizabeth City home on April 21, 2021. They surrounded Brown Jr. in his BMW before his car backed up and moved forward and deputies fired several shots at and into his vehicle. 

ANDREW BROWN JR. FAMILY FILES $30 MILLION FEDERAL LAWSUIT IN NORTH CAROLINA

Local authorities pushed back against the presence of out-of-state attorneys, including Crump and frequent CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers, for seeking to sway public opinion on the case, as they held press conferences after Brown’s family was privately shown snippets of footage of the shooting. 

This May 3, 2021, file photo shows Rev. Al Sharpton speaking during the funeral for Andrew Brown Jr., at Fountain of Life Church in Elizabeth City, N.C. 

This May 3, 2021, file photo shows Rev. Al Sharpton speaking during the funeral for Andrew Brown Jr., at Fountain of Life Church in Elizabeth City, N.C.  (AP)

Law enforcement and prosecutors, meanwhile, said they initially sought to release limited information about the shooting in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation. 

At a press conference in May 2021, District Attorney Andrew Womble, of North Carolina’s Judicial District 1, said Brown’s death “while tragic, was justified,” and no deputies would be charged. 

Womble added that Brown used his car as a deadly weapon, ignored deputies’ commands and his actions “caused deputies to reasonably believe it necessary to use force to protect themselves and others.”

On the morning of the shooting, deputies had been briefed on Brown and his past involvement with law enforcement, including multiple resisting arrest charges and convictions dating back to 1995. Brown also had assault, assault with a deadly weapon and assault conflicting serious injury convictions dating back to 1995. Brown had also barricaded doorways during previous home search warrants, Womble said.

Andrew Brown Jr. seen in undated family photo. 

Andrew Brown Jr. seen in undated family photo.  (Brown Family)

One of the warrants said an informant had been purchasing different quantities of cocaine, “crack” cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine from Brown on numerous occasions for over a year. 

Weeks before the shooting, an undercover narcotics deputy in Dare County made two controlled purchases of cocaine and meth from Brown that were recorded on camera, the warrant says. 

An independent autopsy commissioned by the family found that Brown was hit by bullets five times, including once in the back of the head. Lawyers who watched body camera footage said that it shows Brown was not armed and that he did not drive toward deputies or pose a threat to them. 

Womble has previously disagreed in court, saying that Brown struck deputies twice with his car before any shots were fired and that the lawyers were making public statements that were “patently false.”

Benjamin Crump, one of the lawyers representing the family of Andrew Brown Jr., stands with Mr. Brown's son Khalil Ferebee as he speaks during a press conference on April 27, 2021, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. 

Benjamin Crump, one of the lawyers representing the family of Andrew Brown Jr., stands with Mr. Brown’s son Khalil Ferebee as he speaks during a press conference on April 27, 2021, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.  (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The settlement was approved by the Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners. 

It includes a special $1 million appropriation to go along with $2 million from the county’s insurance policy, which was supplied by the North Carolina Counties Liabilities Pool, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office provided to The Associated Press. That amount is at the limit of the policy.

The settlement was reached over several weeks last month in the case overseen by a federal magistrate in U.S. District Court in Raleigh, the news release said. 

The county’s payment resolves potential liability against the defendants and any individual officers who were either named or could be named as defendants in the lawsuit, the news release said. 

The family also entered into a stipulation in which it dismisses all claims against the defendants, namely Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II and three sheriff’s deputies, as well as other potential claims arising from Brown’s death, the news release said.

Brown’s children will share in the proceeds of the settlement as heirs of his estate. 

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“Andrew Brown Jr. was a devoted father who wanted his children to have the things he didn’t. 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,” Brown’s family’s legal team said in a statement Monday. “No settlement can alleviate the loss to Mr. Brown’s children. However, the Estate of Andrew Brown accepts this settlement.”

The legal team is compromised of Crump, Sellers, Harry Daniels and North Carolina-based attorneys Chantel Cherry-Lassiter and Chance Lynch. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.