Family of Georgia woman killed during raid files $25 million lawsuit against deputies, sheriff

The family of a Georgia woman killed during a drug raid in 2021 has filed a federal lawsuit against the Camden County Sheriff’s Office seeking $25 million in damages.

CAMDEN COUNTY, Ga. – The family of a Georgia woman killed during a drug raid in 2021 has filed a federal lawsuit against the Camden County Sheriff’s Office seeking $25 million in damages.

A shooting broke out within seconds after Camden County deputies knocked down the door of Varshan Brown’s darkened home in Woodbine, about 100 miles south of Savannah, just before 5 a.m. on May 4, 2021. The officers had a warrant to search the house for drugs.

Brown’s cousin, 37-year-old Latoya James, was killed by bullets as deputies and Brown fired guns at each other. Brown was wounded and later charged with crimes. Local prosecutors brought no charges against the deputies after concluding they were justified in using deadly force.

“We deserve justice for my child,” said Latoya James’ mother, Betty Jean James. “Our kids are not supposed to go before you.”

James’ family announced Monday morning the filing of a $25 million lawsuit against Camden County Sheriff Jim Proctor and those deputies involved in James’ death.

Her family’s attorneys say deputies didn’t give her cousin enough time to come to the door which led him to open fire thinking a robber broke into his home.

“Imagine if somebody came to your house at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, knocked down a door. I’m sure you’re going to protect your family. That’s exactly what Mr. Brown did,” attorney Harry Daniels said.

This suit is broken down into four parts: unlawful entry, excessive force, lack of consequences for the deputies involved and wrongful death.

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Lawyers for James’ family say there are striking parallels between this case and the 2020 raid by police officers in Louisville, Kentucky, that left Breonna Taylor dead. In both cases, lawyers said officers arrived in the dark and forced their way into homes with little to no warning, and each case involved a shootout that killed an unarmed Black woman.

The Justice Department filed federal civil rights charges against four Louisville officers earlier this month in connection to Taylor’s death. James deserves similar treatment by federal authorities, said Daniels, an attorney for the Georgia woman’s family.

Daniels said he believes if things were handled differently then Latoya James may still be alive.

Shortly after James’ death, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation released a body camera video that showed deputies announcing themselves at the home’s darkened door, then immediately forcing their way inside. Multiple gunshots were fired within seconds.

The deputy wearing the body camera was carrying a shield that obstructed much of the video. It doesn’t show who opened fire, and neither James nor Brown can be seen in the three-minute clip.

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James’ cousin currently faces a long list of charges to which he has pleaded not guilty.

News4Jax reached out to the Camden County Sheriff’s Office for comment but has not heard back.

About the Author:

This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.