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Tue, 06.22.1954

Derwin Brown, Police Captain born

Derwin Brown

*Derwin Brown was born on this date in 1954. He was a Black police captain and the Sheriff-elect of DeKalb County, Georgia.

The firstborn of Burvena and George Robert Brown was raised in Long Island, New York, where he attended Woodfield Road School and Malverne Jr. High School for his elementary years of grade school and Malverne High School. Derwin Brown first served DeKalb as a youth counselor for troubled teens and soon became one of the county's first Black patrol officers. He later hosted his local T.V. segment called "The Naked Truth." He wrote his column in the local Champion News Paper called "Tell It Like It Is."

Brown was a 23-year veteran of the DeKalb County Police Department. He became Sheriff on a platform of cleaning up the corruption and graft that had historically troubled the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office. On December 15, 2000, former Sheriff's deputy Melvin Walker murdered Brown. He shot him twelve times in front of his suburban Atlanta home.

This murder was only three days before Brown was sworn in as Sheriff of DeKalb County. Director of Public Safety Thomas Brown assumed control of the post in an interim fashion pending a special election held in March 2001. Prosecutors alleged that Walker was promised a promotion to deputy sheriff if he killed Brown at trial. And David Ramsey, the backup shooter and the getaway driver, was pledged to a job as a detention officer. Defeated incumbent and former DeKalb County Sheriff Sidney Dorsey was convicted of ordering Brown's assassination.

Details that came to light in the trial suggested Dorsey ordered the killing to obstruct a standard probe into corruption during his tenure as Sheriff. On July 13, 2007, Dorsey confessed to investigators that he had ordered Deputy Patrick Cuffy to carry out the killing. However, he claimed he had called the attempt off before Brown's assassination. The Brown family filed suit against those involved in the killing. The defense attorneys declined to appear on behalf of the defendants at trial. The plaintiff appealed the ruling up to the Georgia Supreme Court, and that Court upheld the verdict. The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari on a subsequent appeal filed by Brown's family.

After a civil trial found the defendants liable, the family was awarded a judgment of 776 million dollars. After the verdict was rendered virtually uncollectable by the failed appeals, a bill was introduced into the Georgia House of Representatives seeking to compensate Brown's family for more than $300 million. The bill failed to obtain the necessary votes for passage. Derwin and Phyllis Brown had five children and 12 grandchildren. Brown was a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. He was also a member of Freemasonry.

In his honor is a Masonic Lodge named the Derwin Brown Masonic Lodge #599 PHA. Phyllis Brown died on Christmas Eve 2006 of heart failure after suffering a debilitating stroke, nine days after leading a candlelight vigil in honor of the anniversary of her husband's murder. Brown's assassination was featured on Investigation Discovery's Fatal Encounters, season 1, episode 9, "Who Shot the Sheriff?". The assassination and case were also featured on Oxygen's Deadly Power, season 1, episode 3, "Above the Law."  The county has named a police precinct near South Dekalb Mall after Brown and renamed Glasgow Drive to "Derwin Brown Drive" In honor of the slain sheriff elect.

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