Widow Sues Ex-Portsmouth Police Chief, Claiming Husband was Unarmed When Officer Killed Him

Two years ago, the Portsmouth commonwealth’s attorney announced that a police officer was justified when he shot and killed Walter Brown III inside his home. Brown fought with police, she said, and was armed with a gun.

His widow isn’t convinced.

Octavia Brown filed a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit earlier this year against former police Chief Ed Hargis and three of his subordinates. It claims police followed her husband home for no reason, beat him for no reason, used a stun gun on him multiple times for no reason and then shot and killed him – again for no reason.

The lawsuit said Brown did not have a gun and was not resisting or evading arrest at the time of the shooting.

“He was protecting himself in his home from the unlawful, heinous and unprovoked attack on him by the police,” it said.

One of Brown’s lawyers, Christopher Colt North, declined to comment, as did a city spokeswoman.

Mildred Brown holds a photograph of her stepson Walter Brown III, who was shot and killed by Portsmouth a police officer, Wednesday, March 25, 2015 in Virginia Beach, VA. Rich-Joseph Facun | The Virginian-Pilot
A four-page report released in August 2015 by Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Morales offers the city’s version of events. It said police spotted Brown’s car at 1:45 p.m. in the parking lot of a Save & Save Supermarket before moving across the street to a vacant gas station.

Three detectives approached Brown, and one of them tried to quietly tell his colleagues he smelled marijuana, the report said. Brown probably overheard, though.

A detective ordered Brown and his passenger out of the car, but Brown drove off. Police chased him to Colin Drive South, where he parked in his yard and ran toward the front door.

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