The family of Andrew Brown Jr., an unarmed Black man fatally shot by sheriff’s deputies while executing a drug-related search warrant in North Carolina earlier this year, has filed a $30 million civil rights lawsuit against the officers involved in his death, alleging an “intentional and reckless disregard” of Brown’s life.
Attorneys representing Brown’s family announced the federal lawsuit—which names several sheriff’s deputies involved in the police raid as well as Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten—at a Wednesday press conference in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
The lawsuit is seeking more than $30 million in compensatory and punitive damages for “emotional distress, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, and other pain and suffering.”
It alleges the sheriff’s deputies violated Brown’s constitutional rights by using deadly force during the police raid when he did not pose a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officers.
The attorneys also said at the press conference the federal lawsuit will give them the subpoena power to get the full body camera footage of Brown’s death, which has so far been blocked from public release by a judge.
The Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Officer has not yet publicly responded to the lawsuit and did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes.
The three sheriff’s deputies who shot Brown were cleared of wrongdoing in May by District Attorney Andrew Womble. He said their actions were justified because Brown struck a deputy with his car, nearly running him over, and ignored commands to show his hands and get out of the vehicle. Brown’s family, meanwhile, has repeatedly said that based on the body camera footage they were privately shown, it did not appear that Brown posed a threat to the officers. “Not only was the car moving away from officers, but four of them did not fire their weapons—clearly they did not feel that their lives were endangered,” read a statement released by Brown’s family attorneys after Womble released his verdict. They have continually advocated for the footage to be made public.
“We didn’t feel as if we could get justice in the sheriff’s office and we didn’t feel we could get justice in the state court, so we had to come where we believe lady justice is blind,” Bakari Sellers, one of the Brown family’s attorneys, said at the press conference.