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Detroit killer cop found liable in civil suit

By Abayomi Azikiwe

In a landmark civil case, Detroit's most notorious cop, Eugene Brown, has been found liable by a jury in the wrongful death of Lamar Wayne Grable, 20, who was gunned down on Sept. 21, 1996.

A jury of four blacks and four whites deliberated for less than two hours to render a verdict against Brown on the counts of assault and battery and gross negligence. A judgment of $4 million was awarded to the Grable family by the jury.

Arnetta Grable, the mother of Lamar Wayne Grable, brought the lawsuit in 1999 and was represented at trial by attorneys David Robinson and Mellisa El of Detroit. Eugene Brown was represented by a city attorney.

Probably one of the most widely known cases involving police misconduct, Arn etta Grable v. Eugene Brown has come to symbolize all that is wrong with the Detroit Police Department. During the course of four years, Brown killed three people in Detroit and wounded at least one other. He has been involved in numerous altercations with other civilians and even one off-duty police officer over the last several years. In 1999, Brown was removed from active patrol duty by then police chief Benny Napoleon, but still remains on the payroll of the Detroit Police Department.

A long time coming to court

Arnetta Grable was determined to bring the civil case to trial despite repeated attempts by the city of Detroit to settle out of court with a monetary award.

"I am not concerned about the money, I want the truth to come out about what happened to my son," Grable said on several occasions to the media and the general public. "I promised my son the night he was killed that I would not rest until I brought the people responsible to justice."

Grable spoke widely about the death of her son at the hands of Eugene Brown and became a principal organizer in the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality and spokesperson for the National Oct ober 22 Coalition Against Brutality.

Lamar Wayne Grable was a 20-year-old community activist on Detroit's east side and had become fairly well known in the city for his work with young people seeking to establish their own businesses. He had come to the attention of several city leaders for his volunteer work.

On the night of Sept. 21, 1996, he was returning home from a party at a neighborhood church when he was chased and gunned down by Eugene Brown. Grable was shot eight times, twice in the back at point-blank range while he lay mortally wounded in a vacant lot near his home on Field street near Kercheval in Detroit.

Arnetta Grable announced to the media after the verdict that the judgment would be utilized to establish a trust fund in honor of her son. This fund would assist young people in the city of Detroit who are attempting to establish independent community businesses.

"I feel that the loss to our family and Lamar's only child deserves compensation."

Other actions pending against Brown

Another civil suit will be brought against Eugene Brown very soon by one other family which suffered a loss of their loved one at the hands of this Detroit police officer.

In addition, efforts by the city to suppress the finding of Deputy Chief Walter Shoulders's investigation into the killings carried out by Eugene Brown will be challenged in circuit court. This report purportedly carries damaging evidence against Brown that would warrant criminal charges. Brown has been cleared by the internal affairs department of the Detroit Police Department and the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office involving the three killings and other altercations with citizens in Detroit.

Meanwhile, Brown has filed suit against the city after being denied a promotion to sergeant. Yet a legal ruling last year quashed his claim, saying that he had no legal right to a promotion.

At present the Detroit Police Depart ment is under the direction of two federal consent decrees which are supposedly designed to reform the city's law-enforcement agency. Yet the consent decrees are providing no relief to victims of police brutality. The federal monitor appointed to oversee the implementation of the consent decrees did not even send a representative to observe the Grable v. Brown trial, a landmark case in the history of police brutality in Detroit and nationally.

Excerpted from a longer article by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire.

Reprinted from the Aug. 21, 2003, issue of Workers World newspaper

This article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
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