ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — The administrator of the estate of Andrew Brown Jr. — the man shot and killed by authorities in April as he attempted to drive away from a house where a search warrant was being served — has amended a lawsuit against the Pasquotank County deputies who killed Brown.
The amended complaint for the wrongful death suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina Northern Division, contains a new allegation that one of the deputies who shot at Brown “altered” his gun” after the shooting.
The lawsuit seeks $31 million in damages.
The lawsuit alleges excessive force by personnel from the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities tried to serve search and arrest warrants at a home on Perry Street in Elizabeth City on April 21. As Brown was driving away, they fired fatally shot him. No one was criminally charged in Brown’s death, as the county district attorney said the deputies had a reasonable belief they could be in danger due to Brown’s moving car.
According to the amended complaint, after the fatal shooting, authorities searched Brown’s home on Perry Street.
During the search, the lawsuit alleges that one of the deputies that fired his weapon asked a Kitty Hawk police detective — who was also at the scene — to shine his flashlight on him while in a dark room inside Brown’s house. The document says the deputy wanted to count the remaining rounds in the magazine of his firearm.
In May, the lawsuit says the detective said the deputy was stressed about how many times he shot at Brown’s vehicle.
Days before the detective made that statement, the deputy told the State Bureau of Investigation that he removed the magazine from his gun to check the number of bullets while at the house, then also removed all the bullets from his magazine while on the way back to the sheriff’s office. The weapon was then turned over to investigators as evidence in the fatal shooting probe.
The lawsuit alleges the deputy only mentioned this information after it was shown on another person’s body camera footage that he removed the magazine while inside the house.
The deputy said he only wanted to count the number of rounds left, the lawsuit says.
In May, District Attorney Andrew Womble cleared the officers involved in shooting Brown on April 21. But now that it’s a federal case, the attorneys for his family will have the power of discovery and subpoena.
A copy of body camera footage has not been released to the public, however, attorneys and Brown’s family were able to see about 19 minutes of footage.
Seven deputies were initially put on leave after the fatal shooting, with four returning back to work shortly after. The three deputies who shot at Brown were not fired but were disciplined and retrained. One of them resigned at the end of June.
The amended complaint drops four defendants — sheriff’s office employees also involved in the incident, and also the Dare County sheriff — from the lawsuit, as well.
The defendants named in the updated complaint are Sheriff Tommy Wooten II, Investigator Daniel Meads, Deputy Robert Morgan, Cpl. Aaron Lewellyn, and Western Surety Bonding Company. The final defendant is the company that issued a $15,000 bond that covered damages resulting from the incident on April 21.
In addition to the amended complaint, on Nov. 5, a judge denied motions made by the defendants to dismiss the lawsuit.