MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — The family of a Black man who died in police custody in June of 2019 in Monroe has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in the case.
The lawsuit was filed in the Fourth Judicial District Court in Ouachita Parish on Monday, September 21, 2020, on behalf of Alfonso Brown’s four children. The following are listed as defendants in the lawsuit:
- Lieutenant Scott Ferguson
- Dillard Department Stores, Inc.
- Pecanland Mall, LLC
- The City of Monroe
- The Monroe Police Department
The lawsuit alleges that Monroe Police Department’s Lieutenant Scott Ferguson used unreasonable and excessive force when trying to detain Alfonso Brown for an alleged shoplifting on June 17, 2019.
According to the lawsuit, Brown was shopping for clothes at Dillard’s in the Pecanland Mall when a store employee alerted security that Brown looked “suspicious” and later told security that they believed that Brown was going to leave the store with clothing that had not been paid for.
The lawsuit alleges that Brown walked out of the door at approximately 11:14 AM and that Lieutenant Ferguson pursued Brown into the parking lot. During an interview with a Louisiana State Police Investigator, Lt. Ferguson stated that he told Brown to stop and that Brown just looked back at him before running.
Lt. Ferguson, according to the lawsuit, stated that Brown had his hand in his right pocket so the officer fired his Electronic Control Weapon, “taser”, directly towards Brown but only one prong hit Brown in the back.
Lt. Ferguson allegedly grabbed Brown after firing the “taser” once but was pushed off by Brown. The pair then struggled throughout the parking lot but there were no blows and they were not fighting. Lt. Ferguson also stated that Brown never said a word, only grunting a few times.
The struggle led the pair throughout the parking lot towards the main road where Lt. Ferguson stated that he gained control of Brown and tripped him to force Brown to his knee. At this time, according to Lt. Ferguson, backup was called and the pair made their way back to the edge of the parking lot.
Lt. Ferguson stated that Brown then started getting tired and he forced Brown against a car, which brought Brown again to a knee. The lawsuit states that Ferguson then “drive-stunned” Brown on the back of the leg and then once again due to Brown not pulling his hand out.
Brown began breathing heavily and when Lt. Ferguson checked his pulse, he didn’t feel anything. Lt. Ferguson then took the handcuffs off, rolled Brown over, called for an ambulance, and then began CPR until other officers arrived on the scene. Brown was pronounced dead at the scene.
In the lawsuit, listed witness statements offer a slightly different story. One witness claims that Brown didn’t really run from Lt. Ferguson, but rather he “trotted” as if Brown wanted to be caught. That same witness also claims that Lt. Ferguson fired his “taser” three times towards Brown’s back during the initial encounter.
Another witness stated that he and another person were waiting for Brown to return to their vehicle. When he saw Brown returning with clothes, he stated he also saw two police officers “tase” Brown in the chest area. The witness states that as the officers were chasing Brown around the parking lot, the witness told the officers, “Y’all ain’t gotta do him like that.” The witness says that the officers told him he was interfering with an officer. That witness stated that Brown was alive and in handcuffs on the ground when he drove away from the scene.
The lawsuit states that they are many unanswered questions in the case and that the timeline of events in the investigation is questionable. A “taser report”, which lists the times and dates that the “taser” is used, shows that Ferguson fired it eight times over the course of about a minute and a half. It also, according to the lawsuit, was not listed in chronological order and included dates for December 31, 1999, and January 1, 2000, after listing the date of Brown’s death.
The suit also alleges that the family of Alfonso Brown has “been kept in the dark regarding the facts and circumstances” surrounding his death. The family says they have reached out on multiple occasions to the Monroe Police Department and Louisiana State Police, but was always told the matter was still under investigation. That investigation was completed in 2019 and presented to a grand jury on October 17, 2019, where no true bill was returned.
The lawsuit is asserting claims that Lt. Ferguson is liable for the wrongful death and battery of Brown. It also claims that Dillard Department Stores, Inc. is liable as well since Lt. Ferguson was employed at the store as a security officer, and that the City of Monroe and the Monroe Police Department are also liable for Lt. Ferguson’s actions.
Lastly, the lawsuit claims that Pecanland Mall, LLC, owed a duty to Brown to protect him while in the parking lot and that duty was breached by not having security officers patrolling the parking lot nor having outdoor surveillance cameras that could have captured the incident on film.
If you would like to read the full lawsuit, click on the file download below.