Fort Lauderdale — A $1.85 million settlement has been reached in the 2001 hogtying death of a Lauderdale Lakes businessman.
“The family just wants to close this chapter and move on,” said attorney Michael Winer, who represents the family of the victim, Oral Brown, Weiner refused further comment.
Thirteen years ago Brown is believed to have been suffering a seizure while driving along West Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale when his SUV crashed through a fence and landed upside down on its roof in a parking lot of the Swap Shop Flea Market.
He was trapped inside his SUV when emergency personnel arrived to the scene, but survived the accident. He was freed from the wreckage and still dazed, he began to wander around, according to the incident reports.
Broward Sheriff’s deputies, along with county fire rescue personnel and Swap Shop employees, said Brown was combative and had to be forcibly subdued and wrestled to the ground. They restrained him with handcuffs and then hogtied him, face-down, to an ambulance stretcher.
Several witnesses dispute those accounts and said Brown was beaten and placed in a chokehold without justification.
During the trip to the hospital Brown’s condition was not monitored and he didn’t receive medical attention. When they arrived at the emergency room, he was still hogtied and foaming at the mouth. Doctors ordered him to be untied and even though they worked frantically to save him, he was pronounced dead.
Alarmed by the manner he arrived at the emergency room, police were called and an investigation was opened. The medical examiner ruled Brown died from positional asphyxia as a result of his being hogtied.
The case went to before a Grand Jury, which offered some criticisms of first responders, but found no crimes had been committed.
Winer, the family’s attorney, filed lawsuits against the Broward Sheriff’s Office, Broward County and the Swap Shop over his death. A South Florida Times investigation turned up new information that raised questions about the grand jury findings and the autopsy conclusions. The newspaper’s investigation also uncovered several witnesses who said Brown was beaten and placed in a chokehold without provocation.
Those reports led to calls for the criminal case to be reopened, resulting in several of the defendants refusing to testify in the lawsuit depositions out of concern it may have incriminated them. The agreement requires Broward County to pay $200,000 of the settlement. The remaining $1.65 million will be paid by a sheriff’s office insurer.