The friends and family of a Black man who was fatally shot by police in Georgia have filed a federal lawsuit against the officer responsible for the use of “excessive and deadly force.”

Devonte Brown, 28, a father of four, was killed by Cobb County Officer Ian McConnell in August 2021 after his car was boxed in by police vehicles after a brief chase following a traffic stop. The officer was not charged after the case was considered by a grand jury.

The case caused outrage when video footage of the incident captured by the officer’s body-worn camera was released last year, showing the officer shooting the unarmed Brown while he was still in his car, obscured by airbags, shortly after telling him to put his hands up.

The lawsuit, which is backed by the NAACP and the family of a Black teenager shot dead by Cobb County Police, also alleges McConnell caused Brown’s wrongful death while committing assault and battery.

The lawsuit recounts how Brown was stopped for “driving erratically” near Powder Springs Road and State Route 120A in Marietta, about 20 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta. He was asked to show his license but refused, police said. The officer who stopped him called for backup and asked him to park his car — but instead Brown drove off.

After a short chase, Brown crashed into a concrete pillar, inflating his car’s airbags. McConnell was the last officer to arrive on the scene and rammed his patrol vehicle into the driver’s side of Brown’s car, the lawsuit said, boxing him in and cutting off all means of escape.

McConnell shouted for Brown to “get your f—ing hands up” before shooting seven times, pausing and firing 5 more rounds.

Out of the 12 bullets fired, eight hit Brown, the lawsuit said. No other officers opened fire.

The lawsuit, which is seeking a jury trial, said McConnell acted “with shocking and willful indifference to Devonte Brown’s rights and with conscious awareness that it could cause Devonte Brown severe bodily harm or death.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in 2021 that a firearm was later found in Brown’s car.

“The Cobb County Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office have made it very clear that they aren’t interested in seeking justice for Devonte Brown or his family,” said Bernarda Villalona of Villalona Law, which is handling the case.

“They want us to just go away. They want this family and this community to just sit down and shut up. But we’re not going away. We’re not going to let them sweep this under the rug. This family deserves justice and if the DA’s office won’t fight for it, we will,” she said.

“Let’s be clear. It’s not just that Devonte Brown wasn’t a threat. He couldn’t have been,” said Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, from The Law Offices of Harry M. Daniels, which also represents the family.

“He was trapped in a car with the airbags deployed. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t see. He was defenseless. That’s why the other officers on the scene didn’t fire. But Ian McConnell did. He killed a helpless man for no reason and he shouldn’t get away with it,” she said.

The Cobb County Police Department has been contacted for comment.

The department told NBC affiliate WXIA of Atlanta in a statement that it respects the grand jury’s decision not to bring charges against McConnell but said it could not discuss the case in full due to “ongoing legal proceedings.”

Monica Brown, Devonte Brown’s aunt and adoptive mother, told NBC News in 2021 that there was no reason for him to die.

“I feel like this was excessive force,” she said. “He couldn’t go anywhere. They surrounded him.”

She asked police: “Was this necessary? Was there any way you could have de-escalated the situation where we could still have him with us?”

Source link