FORT LAUDERDALE – Broward Sheriff Scott Israel has referred the case of the 2001 death of businessman Oral Brown to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The move is part of a campaign promise Israel made while running against then Sheriff Al Lamberti last year that he will revisit the case.
“Our review of the Oral Brown case has been turned over to the FBI,” Veda Coleman-Wright, manager of the Broward Sheriff’s (BSO) Public Information Office, said in an email responding to questions from the South Florida Times.
Israel had pledged to scrutinize the circumstances of the incident in which the Jamaica native died while being attended to by first responders following a one-vehicle crash at the Swap Shop in Fort Lauderdale.
Beyond confirmation of the new development, BSO released no other details regarding the decision to ask the FBI to look into the case. Michael Leverock, a spokesman in the FBI’s Miami office, said in a statement that “as a matter of policy we do not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation of this nature.”
Sheriff’s deputies and emergency personnel said Brown was combative after being freed from the overturned wreckage of his SUV and had to be forcibly restrained.
Brown was hog-tied and strapped face-down on a stretcher and taken to a hospital. Upon arrival at the emergency room, he was not breathing and had no pulse. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead.
Hospital staff called police and a homicide investigation concluded his death was an accident. The Broward Medical Examiner’s Office said his death was due to the manner in which he was hog-tied but also ruled it an accident. A grand jury that heard the case reached the same conclusion.
Brown’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit and the case is still pending in the courts.
However, new information reported in an ongoing series of South Florida Times stories on Brown’s death and the aftermath have raised questions regarding the official versions of what happened.
In advance of possibly re-opening the case, Israel in March directed BSO Col. John “Jack” Dale to conduct a review of the files. Dale heads BSO”s Department of Professional Standards.
It was not clear whether the decision to refer the investigation to the FBI resulted from the review conducted by Dale and other units of the BSO, such as the Criminal Investigation Division.
Michael Winer, attorney fof Brown’s family, welcomed the decision to involve the FBI.
“Sheriff Israel has kept his campaign promise to render justice for Mr. Brown’s death,” Winer said in a statement. “Mr. Brown’s family is satisfied with Sheriff Israel’s decision to turn the investigation over to the FBI.”