Marlon Brown's family renews fight against former DeLand officer

By John W. Davis, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, March 16, 2015, 11:21 PM EDT

The family of a Volusia County man who was run over by a DeLand police officer nearly two years ago is renewing their fight to bring charges against the now-former officer.

A grand jury decided not to charge James Harris with vehicular homicide in 2013. 

However, Marlon Brown’s family members said they have new evidence that should reverse that decision.

Brown’s teenaged daughter presented the new evidence to DeLand city council members Monday night. The family said the evidence proves graphic dash cam video showing the seconds before Brown's death is the key to what really happened.

“Plain and simple. It does match what we see in the most objective evidence that we’ve had since the beginning, the dash cam video and he needs to look at all the information and reopen the case," explained Marlon Brown's ex-wife Krystal Brown.

Brown was 38 when he ran from police during what was supposed to be a traffic stop for a seat belt violation on May 8, 2013.  

Family members said the video shows Brown being run over and killed by former-Officer James Harris, who was later fired by DeLand Police Chief Bill Ridgeway for not following department procedure.  

However, according to the autopsy report, Brown was not run over by the patrol car and the medical examiner ruled Brown's death was accidental mechanical asphyxia, after he suffocated while he was pinned underneath the patrol car.  

That cause of death is exactly what Brown’s family and their attorney want changed.  

That’s why they presented two sworn affidavits from medical pathologists challenging the cause of death, saying blunt force trauma from being hit by a patrol car killed Marlon Brown.

“He puts it in detail in his report about why this new information is consistent with what we see on that video and consistent with the physical evidence," said Brown family attorney Benjamin Crump. "So it’s simply a matter of semantics because everybody knows the truth of what happened, we saw it with our eyes."

An internal review of the incident by the DeLand Police Department in 2013 places the blame squarely of Harris, saying “it was the unexplainable independent actions of Harris that resulted in the death of Mr. Brown."

But to move this case forward, Crump asked the DeLand City Council to ask DeLand Police Chief Bill Ridgway to order a coroner’s inquest that could possibly change Brown’s official cause of death. Both the city and Chief Ridgway said no, telling Brown's family it is not their place to do so. 

“We know the only way you can reconvene a grand jury is if it’s new information out there. If it’s inconsistent information, so if we want to have it based on the truth, then he certainly should resubmit it to a new grand jury," Crump added.

We  reached out to Harris’ attorney for comment.

“In 30 years of practicing law, I’ve never heard of this procedure and I believe this case is closed," attorney Eric Latinsky said Monday afternoon.

Brown’s family reached a settlement for $550,000 with the City of DeLand in August 2013.

Now family members plan on asking the Volusia County state attorney to consider the new evidence, which they hope will eventually lead to homicide charges against Harris.