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Police Shooting Death Case settles for $1.2 million

The family of a man who was shot and killed by police during an early morning altercation in the driveway of his rural home has settled claims against the sheriff’s department for $1.2 million, the plaintiff’s attorney has reported.

John Edwards and Cate Edwards of Edwards Kirby, LLP in Raleigh, who represented the family of Todd Burroughs, state that the 38-year-old man was driving his family from a wedding to their Stoneville home late after midnight in May 2016 in dual-cab truck. Two deputies from the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department began to follow him, asserting that his location on rural roads after midnight was suspicious, and attempted to initiate a traffic stop. When they pulled into their long driveway, the patrol car followed. Mr. Burroughs got out of the car to find out why the officers were there. His family remained inside the car.

Frank Martin, a 15-year veteran of the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department, and his trainee, Chase Myers, quickly got out of their patrol car. Deputy Martin, a 5’10’’ and 167 lb. man, immediately ordered Mr. Burroughs, a 6’6’’ and 290 lb. man, to get the ground. Mr. Burroughs did not, and continued to ask what the officers were doing there. They did not answer him.

Deputy Martin employed his taser twice, his pepper spray twice and his ASP baton once on Mr. Burroughs. Mr. Burroughs’s wife got out of the car to try to deescalate the situation. Mr. Burroughs took the ASP baton from Deputy Martin and threw it to the ground. The Deputies allege that Mr. Burroughs then picked up the baton and walked towards Deputy Martin, but that is disputed by Ms. Burroughs. Deputy Martin’s body camera was not turned on until very late in the encounter, and the only footage of the incident was very dark. The audio did, however, record Mr. Burroughs using vulgar and aggressive language towards Deputy Martin during the confrontation.

Deputy Martin then shot Mr. Burroughs three times in the chest. He fell to the ground and died. Autopsy testing showed his blood alcohol content to have been .2 at the time he was killed. In the aftermath of the shooting, Deputy Martin also shot and killed the Burroughs’s family dog. Mr. Burroughs left behind his wife and two minor children.

The Estate brought claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the state wrongful death statute, alleging that Deputy Martin’s use of deadly force was excessive and unauthorized. Those claims survived summary judgment, despite the Department and Deputy’s qualified immunity arguments. The case settled on the eve of trial.

Settlement Report – Civil Rights

  • Amount: $1.2 million
  • Injuries alleged: Wrongful Shooting Death of 38-year-old father of two
  • Case name: Burroughs v. County of Rockingham, et al.
  • Case No.: 1:17-cv-463 (M.D.N.C.)
  • Date of settlement: Jan. 2020
  • Attorneys for Plaintiff: John R. Edwards and Cate E. Edwards, Edwards Kirby, Raleigh; Mark L. Bibbs, Bibbs Law Group, Raleigh
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    Attorneys Cate Edwards, Winston Kirby and Mary Kathryn Kurth were named "Top 40 Under 40" by the National Trial Lawyers.
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    Attorney Cate Edwards has been selected for this prestigious award after undergoing a stringent evaluation process based on peer recognition, past results, and reputation. Only the top 10% of attorneys in each state are selected to the final list.