FORT LAUDERDALE – The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Broward Sheriff’s Office will not reopen the investigation into the 2001 death of Lauderdale Lakes businessman Oral Brown who died while in the care of first responders after his SUV crashed and overturned at the Swap Shop flea market.
Shortly after he took office in January, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel ordered a fresh look at the case following several reports in South Florida Times raising questions as to the circumstances in which Brown died. BSO also referred the case to the FBI.
“There was an internal review of the case by BSO and an independent review by the FBI. Our review concluded that there was no new evidence to indicate that this very tragic death was anything more than accidental. The FBI concluded there was no criminal intent as well,” BSO Public Information Officer Veda Coleman-Wright said in an emailed statement to South Florida Times.
Brown was apparently suffering a seizure while driving in the vicinity of the Swap Shop in Fort Lauderdale. His SUV landed upside down on the flea market’s property.
Emergency personnel said Brown appeared to be disoriented after first responders removed him from the wreckage. Reports said BSO deputies, paramedics and Swap Shop employees restrained Brown, who was eventually hog-tied and strapped face down on a stretcher and taken to a hospital. He was pronounced dead upon arrival.
Brown’s family have filed a lawsuit over his death and the case is moving through the courts. One of the lawsuits filed in connection with the death was dismissed by the Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial District.
The court ruled recently that former BSO Deputy Scott Chase was working for BSO at the time Brown was involved in the accident.
According to the ruling, the “Swap Shop is not vicariously liable for any negligence on the part of Sgt. Chase [as] Sgt. Chase was not an employee of the Swap Shop at any time material to” Brown’s death. The court cited an affidavit in which Chase, who currently lives in Georgia, asserted that he “was not an employee of the Swap Shop and did not have any contractual relationship with the Swap Shop.” As such, the court continued, the “Swap Shop had no authority over how Sgt. Chase performed” his duties.
Chase was sued because, the lawsuit alleged, he was involved in restraining and subduing Brown. A second lawsuit focusing on allegations that Chase and Swap Shop employees beat Brown during the attempts to restrain him is still active, according to a source familiar with the case.
Brown’s widow Alverna Brown sued then Sheriff Kenneth C. Jenne, several first responders and also the Swap Shop claiming wrongful death. The case was initially dismissed but was reinstated and is still in the courts.