tv Who Shot the Sheriff MSNBC October 30, 2011 9:00am-10:00am PDT
911 emergency. >> we the jury find the defendant -- derwin brown was a man at the top of his game. a popular police captain, father and grandfather. >> i felt like nothing could ever happen to him. he was my superhero. >> three days before he was to become sheriff, he was shot to death in his driveway. >> there were things going on in that sheriff's department that those of us in law enforcement had no idea about. >> things that would be revealed by a stunning turn of events. >> the investigation was dead in
the water. >> it was a mystery with more twists and turns. >> did you do it? >> did you do it? >> than a detective novel. >> i said, this whole thing is not real. this is not even happening. >> there was the most remarkable murder case that i can remember. >> in this hour, who shot the sheriff and why? people seemed easily drawn to derwin brown. >> he was a man who was unafraid, honest, caring, and was concerned about more than himself and his family. >> brown was raised on new york's long island. >> he was the best brother you could have. he was very protective. he introduced me to everything right after he learned it. i know that he was always a leader. >> he came to atlanta in 1977.
there, he and his future wife, phyllis, were set up on a blind date. >> when i went to pick him up, he came around the corner. and he was the most gorgeous man that i had ever in my life seen. >> over 23 years, they would raise 5 children, including brandy, their only daughter. >> i felt like nothing could ever happen to him. he was my superhero. what he said, that was word. you know what i'm saying? you know, i guess a lot of kids, a lot of people listen to peer pressure and their friends. i listened to my dad. when he spoke, that's what it was. >> there would be six grandchildren. memorable family vacations. >> san juan, puerto rico. >> during those 23 years, derwin brown would move up the ranks in law enforcement in dekalb county, georgia's second largest which contains a piece of the
city of atlanta and a wide swath of its eastern suburbs. he eventually made captain and was an assistant precinct commander. robert crowder was his partner when the two officers worked undercover narcotics. >> he was the kind of person if he saw something that was wrong, he tried to do all he could to make it right. >> brown had a local newspaper column called "tell it like it is" where we wrote about the struggle of african-americans and about current affairs and he hosted a local television program called "the naked truth." >> welcome to "the naked truth." >> revealing the truth was the driving force in brown's life. so he was a natural to challenge the suspected corruption at the dekalb county sheriff's office and run for sheriff, himself. >> he sat down and he said, phyllis, this is something i really feel very strongly about. he said, the people of our
county deserve the best that they can get. as opposed to corruption. >> it goes back probably 30 years. we've had a long history of prosecuting sheriffs who have ended up in jail. >> jay tom morgan was the county district attorney at the time. >> i think the problem is under our law in georgia is that the sheriff has unbridled authority. the sheriff has a $50 million budget that he or she is exclusively in charge of. >> the county has a separate police department. the sheriff is responsible for managing the largest local jail east of the mississippi. serving warrants and protecting the courts. and perhaps the most colorful sheriff of all, sidney dorsey. brown had lost to him once but ran for sheriff again in 2000. >> he had a solid police background. and he was an appealing candidate against dorsey, who by
then had off-put a lot of people. and had sort of an imperialistic approach to being sheriff. >> as a cop, dorsey was known for working the wayne williams atlanta missing and murdered children's cases in the 1980s. but the sheriff's office was a different kind of place. >> the sheriff's office was what dorsey made of it. he turned it into a little kingdom for himself. >> there were things going on in that sheriff's department that those of us in law enforcement in the district attorney's office had no idea about. >> as the campaign for sheriff heated up in the summer of 2000, pictures were leaked to the press that seemed to show that dorsey was lawless, himself. the photos showed he'd bus criminals from his dekalb county jail to do work on his home.
they worked for dorsey's wife, sherry, an elected member of the atlanta city council. >> see, the problem is most people don't know me. people who know me know that i am an honest man with great integrity. that's the people who know me. i realize that there is a perception out there. >> those leaked photographs would become part of a wide-ranging indictment against dorsey. >> he used his power for his office to have sheriffs deputies to transport children to and from school. he used his power as a sheriff to have another deputy pick up a happy meal for his son every day. he used the power of sheriff to take bribes from the bonding companies. >> there would be further charges. that dorsey was demanding sex, cash and gifts from a local businesswoman in return for awarding her company a bail bonding contract at the jail. and that dorsey's deputy sheriffs were working as his private security firm on county
time. >> he had kind of surrounded himself with some kind of thuggish characters and dorsey began referring to himself in the third person. >> they started this relentless attack on sidney dorsey, morning, afternoon, evening, reporting constantly. apparently, the voting community was very confused. >> fiscal responsibility of professional management. these things have not been addressed because of all of these side issues. >> the heated general election was too close to call. and a runoff was necessary. >> initially, sidney was less than 500 votes away from going back into office. i think that people finally heard the message that derwin was preaching. >> but in the runoff election, derwin brown won by a margin of two to one and was elected sheriff of dekalb county,
georgia. >> the runoff election detailed some very terrible accusations against me that i deny to this day. >> that, for him, was the beginning of the dream. because the people had empowered him to do what he said he wanted to do. i mean, everybody in that room, we danced, we cheered, you know. when i looked at him, he was just so proud. >> and i promise the voters one thing. one thing i can give them. that they'll be as proud of me in four years as they are of me tonight. coming up -- but derwin brown wouldn't get a chance to keep his promise. look, every day we're using more and more energy.
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derwin brown won the 2000 election as the sheriff of dekalb county, georgia, after a bitter campaign, charging his opponent with corruption. >> i just knew that right had to prevail. >> he wanted to make a change. that's what he told me. >> i think that she might have thought that it was going to be a little less dangerous once he got to that position. so it's a little ironic the way things turned around. >> his mother was overjoyed. >> oh, i was very happy. but while he was running, i was very nervous. because of the corruption. and i just felt like something could happen to him, you know. and he said, mommy, i'm not
afraid to die for what i believe in. remember martin luther king? he took out what he believed in. and i said to him, i said, well, that's martin luther king. i'm your mother. >> with only a few months until his inauguration, brown wasted no time preparing to clean house in the sheriff's department. he made a long list of everyone he was going to fire. >> he felt that no matter how deep the corruption went, he was man enough to handle it and get it cleaned up. >> when derwin was elected, i immediately sat down with him and said you need to know some things that we have uncovered in getting ready to start your administration. >> but brown also had sources inside the department that had given him information about incumbent sheriff sidney dorsey's purported sexual misconduct, cash for conduct, bribery scheme and the personal
use of his inmates and deputies. dorsey continued to defend himself. >> the only thing i can say to you and the world is that sidney dorsey is innocent of all of these accusations. there is no corruption in the dekalb county sheriff's office. those accusations are completely and totally false. >> and brown continued to plan for change. >> his main concern was cleaning up the jail, making sure that the programs that were in place were actually going to benefit the people that they were designed to serve. >> brown's best friend and former partner, robert crowder, agreed to be his chief deputy. >> he began to make change by sending out dismissal letters of people he were not going to offer jobs to beginning the first of the year. >> brown wanted to demote or fire 38 people. >> he fired a lot of people. he was asking for some serious investigations to occur.
so there were a lot of people who were concerned and maybe upset about the reforms that were about to take place under his administration. >> on december 15th, 2000, derwin graduated from the state sheriff's academy. and it was phyllis' birthday. in three days, he was scheduled to be sworn in. there would be a double celebration. family and friends joined campaign workers that night at a supper club in decatur. >> everybody's just laughing, you know, relaxing, having a good time, saying it's finally over. phyllis, you now have your husband back. we were really getting into the festive mood, you know, simply because it was my birthday, the holidays were on their way. it's over. >> we were supposed to all leave from the restaurant and go back to my parents' house and kind of finish the celebration. we're kind of a partying family. it was my mom's birthday.
i was like, i'm so proud of you. i told him, i said, i'm tired. i will just see you in the morning at breakfast and we'll continue. i'm thinking of going back to the house. he said, okay, that's fine. i'm going to sit here a while longer. he was talking to someone. and i'm headed on home. >> at about 11:00 p.m., brown drove home alone. he parked at the curb. phyllis was inside watching tv with robert crowder and her son, michael. michael saw derwin walk toward the house carrying roses and some christmas gifts. >> he saw his dad coming down the driveway toward the door. and he -- you know, he said he saw him with the bags and his coat. and he said, he just -- he said, and pops just had this big smile on his face, like he was -- you know, like, yes! let's go home and celebrate again, you know. >> he was -- could not get into his driveway because there were some cars there. he parked on the road.
he was walking to the door with the roses in his hand. >> initially, i heard what i thought were fire crackers. because it just went pop, pop. but by the time it popped again, i realized it was gunshots. and i have to say that for once in my life, i remembered everything derwin ever told me to do. i told everybody to get down and get out of the room. pick up the phone, call 911, tell them shots are fired. because i honestly thought that it was at the other house. by the time things quieted down, and i'm still on the phone with 911, i peeked through the blind, and between the two cars that were parked in my driveway, i saw two bags. i fully expected to find derwin
crouched down either between the two cars or crouched down between the first car and the door. >> so she said, i got to go. and -- so she went out. and i came out behind her. and as soon as we stepped out the door, derwin was laying right there to the left of the door. >> i knelt down to derwin and i told him, just hold on. you know, just hold on. and that was when i really recognized that he was bleeding from both sides of his mouth and his eyes were open. and that inner part of me knew he was gone. >> the 46-year-old brown was dead. hit with 12 of the 16 bullets fired. coming up, one of the largest investigations in georgia history was about to start. look, every day we're using more and more energy.
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derwin brown was dead. the popular former police captain who campaigned for sheriff and won on the promise of reform, was gunned down in his front yard just before christmas 2000, 3 days before he was to be inaugurated. >> it was like a dream. i guess because i really thought i was in a dream, i had -- you know, i dreamt that i was strong and took care of business the way derwin would have wanted me to take care of business. >> i was in shock. i was -- i was just in shock. i couldn't do anything. >> it was clear to police by the type of weapon, a tech .9, a pistol favored by career criminals and law enforcement, and by the accuracy of the hit, that the ambush was carefully planned. but by whom? >> this was not a domestic. this was not a botched robbery, this was an assassination.
who would want the sheriff elect assassinated? >> brown had been preparing to shake things up at the jail, secretly meeting with the district attorney swapping stories about corruption by outgoing sheriff, sidney dorsey. >> i just had dinner with derwin a week before he was murdered, and then to see him later in the morgue right before the autopsy started was one of those images i will never forget. >> the killing of derwin brown just made no sense at all. the only real enemy he had was sid dorsey. but it didn't make sense that dorsey would have been behind it because dorsey didn't have anything to gain. he had already lost the election. >> i sympathize in saying that with the -- his family, with the law enforcement community which i'm a member of, you get the same feeling when you lose a brother in blue, be it that he was a political adversary or not. >> derwin's own family was
mystified. >> do you have any idea who did this? >> no. >> any suspects in your mind? >> no. ♪ >> more than 4,000 people attended derwin brown's funeral. brown's wife and five children watched as hundreds of officers passed by the flag-draped coffin. michael brown is the son who saw his father in the driveway the moment before he died. >> because i know he's watching and i know he can hear me. and i love you, dad. >> do you swear or affirm -- >> on january 1st, 2001, thomas brown, no relation to derwin, was sworn in as interim sheriff. and prosecutors began to interview hundreds of people. >> anyone who was going to be affected by the new administration now needs to be interviewed and accounted for
for their activities that evening. >> two grand juries were impanelled. one who investigated the charges of corruption in the former sheriff's office. the other, the murder of derwin brown. >> i can't speak to what's going on in the prosecutor's head or primarily what his motives are. my statement to you is that i am not guilty of any form of corruption and i had absolutely nothing to do with the murder of derwin brown. >> nine months after brown's death, the case was at a standstill. >> the investigation was dead in the water. we knew we needed inside information. >> then came the big break. on september 12th, 2001, a man named patrick cuffy was charged with murder after what the newspapers called a wild west shootout in his suburban atlanta front yard. cuffy had be ex-sheriff dorsey's right-hand man and worked in
dorsey's private security firm and he was one of the deputies that derwin brown planned to fire. police had been watching cuffy for months. >> cuffy was, himself, kind of like a mini cult leader within the sheriffs office. when the police were able to fixate on cuffy, that led to them being able to see if they could solve the derwin brown assassination by making cuffy uncomfortable. >> the bond between cuffy and dorsey was very, very, very strong. cuffy describes it as a father/son relationship and that they would do anything for him, including commit murder. >> cuffy steadfastly said, i didn't have anything to do with it. sid dorsey didn't have anything to do with it. >> now, the irony of all of this is that there's a shootout at cuffy's house and cuffy is being prosecuted for something totally
unrelated to the murder and that's when he wants to come talk to us. >> j. tom morgan went in the back room. cuffy went into the back room. cuffy's attorney went into the back room. and the hearing was delayed. and several hours later, cuffy flipped. >> prosecutors agreed not to charge cuffy and another former deputy sheriff, paul skyers, in return for their testimony against dorsey and two others. >> mr. dorsey, did you have anything to do with this? >> the day after cuffy flipped, former sheriff sidney dorsey was handcuffed and taken by officers armed with machine guns to this same jail he once ran. >> did you do it? >> did you do it? >> sidney dorsey was now charged with masterminding and directing four of his deputies to murder sheriff-elect, derwin brown. >> i'm innocent. >> what to you say to the charges? coming up -- two murder trials in georgia and two very different verdicts.
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here is what is happening right now. the northeast continuing to dig out after deadly storms that took a heavy toll on several states. the wintry blast knocked out power to more than 3 million homes. and a new report indicates that president obama and the pen pentagon will send more troops to the gulf. and they plan to continue troops in that region. the investigation into the shooting of derwin brown on december 15th, 2000, was dead in the water for nearly a year. and now a stunning turn of events. outgoing sheriff sidney dorsey was arrested and charged with ordering the ambush and assassination of brown. the man that defeated dorsey in
the sheriff's race and with promising promotions to four of his deputies in return for the killing. >> did you do it? did you do it? >> innocent. innocent. >> two of those deputies, melvin walker and david ramsey, were also arrested. unable to crack the case for nearly a year, prosecutors agreed not to charge the other two admitted co-conspirators, patrick cuffy and paul skyers, with any crime related to brown's murder in return for their agreement to tell the whole story. >> we needed their testimony. as much as i hated it. but this was the type of crime that had no one come forward we would have never solved it. >> d.a., j. tom morgan first asked brown's widow, phyllis, if she could live with cuffy going free. >> she said as long as he wasn't triggerman and as long as he wasn't the master schemer then she was willing for us to go ahead and make deals with him and skyers so that we could
convict the others. >> the indictment charged melvin walker and david ramsey with murder. walker for shooting brown and ramsey, who also worked at ex-sheriff dorsey's private security firm, for being the armed lookout ready to kill anyone who intervened. >> walker was the triggerman. and skyers got rid of the gun. and cuffy drove the getaway car. >> cuffy's plea changed everything. >> i will accept your plea of guilty as to counts 12, 13 and 14. >> the trial in the state murder case against ramsey and walker began in the spring of 2002. it was held right in dekalb county. cuffy was the state's star witness. >> i do, sir. >> paul skyers testified that derwin brown was assassinated to pave the way for sidney dorsey's comeback. the four co-conspirators, he
said, were all promised promotions for killing brown. >> it was a very demented understanding and very irrational. but he believed that there would be a special election in which he could retake his office. >> full weight of the evidence against these two guys brought in the conspiracy that sid dorsey ordered it, brought in patrick cuffy, who was their star witness. and presented a case that i thought was a slam-dunk against these two guys. >> but it was not a slam-dunk to the jury. >> we, the jury, find the defendant, david isaiah ramsey, not guilty of felony murder. >> the jury found them not guilty of murder. >> the loss of the first case was a very vivid memory, that jury coming back. >> and they got off. they had to take my mom away in an ambulance. people just could not believe it. >> and it was just holy smokes, how did that happen?
>> and the jury could not wrap themselves around understanding why these people would do such a horrible act. >> nor could the jury believe patrick cuffy, an admitted liar, or find a clear motive for the murder. >> cuffy's story deserved skepticism anyway because he conveniently flipped on sid dorsey when he got into trouble. >> how could anyone kill a sheriff-elect for nothing more than a promotion in a sheriff's department? >> now the four men accused of carrying out the assassination were free to walk the streets. only cuffy would serve less than a year on a reduced charge stemming from the shootout at his home. >> losing that first trial was very difficult. we knew they were guilty. but once that was over with, we knew we still had a job to do and that was to convict mr. dorsey. >> the murder trial of sidney dorsey began in june in a small south georgia town of albany. dorsey's attorney requested to have the trial anywhere but in
dekalb county. >> when we went down to dougherty county, we had a 26-page indictment that listed each and every corrupt activity that dorsey had been involved in and culminating with a murder charge. >> one by one, witnesses spun tales of unbridled, even sordid corruption in the dekalb county sheriffs office. shirley mcmichael was president of the speedy bonding company. >> you remember buying him this smoking jacket here? >> absolutely. >> niemann marcus, is that right? >> correct. >> okay. how much did this cost? >> all of the bonding companies gave him really cash donations or gifts. >> and mcmichael says she had to give dorsey a lot more. prosecutors showed the jury a photograph of an abandoned rat-infested house where she said dorsey forced her to have sex with him.
>> that was a price to pay. >> okay. and then what happened, please? >> then he just started, you know, having sexual intercourse to me. >> she says dorsey also confided something in her. >> he was saying, derwin won't be there, like -- i was like, oh. he was going -- he was saying, derwin would not make it to the -- to take office. >> and a parade of dorsey's former employees testified they were ordered to chauffeur dorsey's children. >> it came from the sheriff. i felt like, you know, he should -- he should know better and know more than anybody, you know, whether it would be right or wrong. >> how do you feel about the way the proceedings are going? >> i don't know. i've never been in this position before. >> corruption testimony ended.
then came the case for murder. one of dorsey's friends testified dorsey told him that derwin brown would never assume the office of sheriff. >> he made the statement, words to the effect that derwin brown would never assume the office of sheriff, that there would be a special election. first there would be an interim sheriff appointed. there would be a special election. he would enter the race and he would win. >> co-conspirator paul skyers described the murder weapon which he said was dismantled and thrown in a drain. and patrick cuffy once again described being ordered by dorsey to strangle brown. >> he insisted on that method. it was not convenient for us because four of us had decided that we did not want to wrestle with anyone. >> how dare they. how dare they. >> dorsey's team tried to blame
it all on patrick cuffy. >> no evidence that sidney dorsey's involved and then telling a murderer, we know you're involved, but you'll walk out of here if you say the name sidney dorsey. >> the only person who had the motive to kill derwin brown is none other than sidney dorsey, himself. >> and through it all sat phyllis brown, the final witness. >> i'm sorry. i looked to my left on the ground, and derwin was lying there. >> then j. tom morgan asked her one final question. >> did you ever hear from sidney dorsey expressing any condolences? >> no. >> after a three-week trial then two days of jury deliberation, the verdict was read on july 10th, 2002. >> we, the jury, find the defendant as to count one guilty. as to count two, guilty.
>> dorsey was convicted of 12 of 15 counts of murder, racketeering, violation of the oath of office and eight counts of theft. >> as to count three, guilty. as to count four, not guilty. as to count five, not guilty. as to count six, guilty. >> phyllis and robert brown collapsed in an embrace. >> count eight, guilty. as to count nine, guilty. >> we were able to show that he was using the sheriffs department as an organized crime, if you will, and that by assassinating derwin brown, he was attempting to gain control -- regain control of that criminal activity. >> that south georgia jury convicted him like that. were it not for a huge tactical mistake that sid dorsey,
himself, made, he could be walking the streets right now. >> it is widely believed that had dorsey decided to be tried in dekalb, he may have easily been acquitted, like walker and ramsey. >> dorsey was still a popular, well-known figure in dekalb county. and i think a dekalb county jury would have been very skeptical of the evidence against him. >> i'm going to be in prison on the outside, but i'll be free on the inside. >> before his sentencing, dorsey steadfastly maintained his innocence. >> i do not have the blood of derwin brown on my hands. >> derwin brown's brother, ron brown, was at that sentencing. >> he probably actually believes in his mind that he does not have my brother's blood on his hands. and he probably rationalizes that by thinking to himself that he had someone else pull the trigger for him and that enables him to make that statement and actually believe it. >> and phyllis brown chose the moment to respond to something she had heard dorsey say about her dead husband during the trial. >> you said derwin was the
lowest scumbag of the earth. i beg to differ. that is you. that is you. >> dorsey was sentenced to life plus 23 years in prison. the man who ran a jail will live in one for the rest of his life. coming up -- the impact of this trial would take the ultimate toll on phyllis brown, derwin's widow, but not before she would have to endure one more chapter in this remarkably tragic story. >> it's just so upsetting, everything about it. >> there would be one more trial. >> it was a bumpy road to get there and not a road that i would want to travel again. >> but after all was said and done, the world had still not heard the last of former sheriff sidney dorsey.
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former dekalb county sheriff, sidney dorsey, was now in jail for the rest of his life. convicted of ordering four deputy sheriffs to assassinate derwin brown, the man who defeated him in the 2000 election for sheriff. prosecutors were able to prove dorsey ran a sheriffs office and a jail rife with corruption. including sexual misconduct, bribery and ordering employees and inmates to do work for him outside the sheriffs office. >> i did what i was told to do. >> not long after dorsey's incarceration, phyllis brown, derwin's widow, a vigilant presence at every hearing and trial, suffered a debilitating stroke.
>> that murder and the subsequent trials took a tremendous toll on her. >> remember, two of the gunmen, melvin walker and david ramsey, were acquitted in the state trial. >> i think the acquittal was very, very difficult for her. >> and the other two were granted immunity in return for testifying against the others. so all four gunmen were walking the streets. >> also, the fact that he was murdered right there on her front doorstep while she was, you know, three feet on the other side, i think that would be very difficult for any of us to lose a spouse in that manner. >> but suddenly, phyllis had reason for hope. after months of work behind the scenes by u.s. attorneys in atlanta and washington, d.c., walker and ramsey were arrested on federal charges for the murder of derwin brown. prosecutors said this was not double jeopardy because the federal charges were conspiracy to commit murder for hire under federal racketeering statutes. >> a political assassination is
a crime that affects not only the family and the community but the very system that we all support and that supports us. >> again the brown family, with phyllis continuing to weaken, was present every day of the trial at the federal courthouse in atlanta. it was the third trial since derwin brown died. u.s. attorneys tried to show how dorsey and the four co-conspirators spent four months planning the murder and how they conducted surveillance on brown about 20 times before they killed him. >> you're going to see diagrams of where this horrible tragedy took place. >> it's just so upsetting. everything about it. >> in august 2005, nearly 5 years after the murder and 3 years after the acquittal in dekalb county, walker and ramsey were convicted by a federal jury and sent to federal prison for life with no chance of parole.
>> today i am very happy. now if i can just get rid of this anger and forgive them. >> oh, that was a good day. that was a good day. and i -- walker's wife fell out in the courtroom. everybody was crying. we were crying. we were, you know, it was just so upsetting. everything about it. you know. but the reality was they would never walk into their home again, you know? and i'm sorry for you, but i'm really happy for us because we lost a lot. >> walker's attorney, max richardson. >> he was definitely surprised. the entire time i could hear him asking me how, how, how could this be? >> we worked on the case and we tried to make sure, you know, that justice did prevail. so it was emotionally draining. i'm glad i had the experience. not many lawyers in their career have an experience like that.
and it was rewarding in the sense that at the end, justice did prevail. it was a bumpy road to get there and not a road that i would want to travel again. >> on december 15th, 2006, an ailing phyllis brown led a candlelight remembrance at derwin's grave. it was the sixth anniversary of the shooting. nine days later, on christmas eve, phyllis brown died of heart failure at the age of 52. coming up -- this was not the end. the world would hear from former sheriff sid dorsey again. with an a+ credit rating in good times and bad, sun life financial should be famous. we're working on it. so you're seriously proposing we change our name to sun life valley.
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brown were now in prison for life after two trials. the mastermind of the hit, former sheriff sidney dorsey, also in prison for life. >> wait a minute. >> the cost to the family was unmeasurable. in addition to losing a husband, father and grandfather in a hail of gunfire just days before he was to become the sheriff, his wife, phyllis brown, died of heart failure at age 52. 3 1/2 years after suffering a major stroke. >> that murder and the subsequent trials took a tremendous toll on her. >> and there was more. the day that derwin brown died, he was not employed. he had resigned as police captain and he was not yet sheriff. a state panel ruled his family was, therefore, not entitled to any law enforcement officer death benefits. >> there was an almost seven-day gap where technically he was
unemployed as an officer. >> so the family sued dekalb county for wrongful death. >> they used county vehicles and county time to assassinate my father. >> the georgia court of appeals found the county was not liable. >> because dorsey was acting outside the scope of his employment as sheriff when he had derwin assassinated, the citizens of dekalb county and the state of georgia are not liable for his criminal actions. >> one month before she died, the u.s. supreme court refused to hear phyllis brown's next appeal. and in a separate legal proceeding, another jury ordered sidney dorsey, patrick cuffy and paul skyers to pay the brown family $776 million in damages, the largest verdict in georgia history. >> but of course we've never seen a cent of it. >> and lawyers freely acknowledge the family will never be able to collect any part of it because dorsey is in prison and the other two can never afford to pay it. during dorsey's murder trial,
the governor signed a special exception allowing phyllis brown to collect $75,000 in law enforcement widows benefits. that is all the family has ever received. >> all that public service after a case like this, it's time to try something else. >> former d.a., j. tom morgan is now in private practice. >> the case aged all of us because from the moment derwin was assassinated until dorsey was convicted, that was two long years, we lived and breathed that case every day. >> and morgan got a chilling wake-up call, himself, when he later learned that dorsey planned to kill him next. >> dorsey wanted me assassinated because of the investigation into the political corruption. they went to the local library. and with the help of the librarian that they went through the stacks and figured out where i lived. and i said, well, mr. cuffy, why
didn't you just look in the phonebook? he said, you're in the phonebook? i said, yes, i'm the only j. tom morgan in the phone book. he said, well, damn, we wasted all that time. right then i knew who am i dealing with? >> but perhaps the most stunning footnote to this story came late in the summer of 2007. from inside his isolation cell in the georgia state prison at reidsville prisoner 1148460 said he wanted to talk to the current dekalb county d.a., gwen keyes fleming. >> sidney dorsey, the man convicted of ordering the hit against derwin brown, has now confessed. >> almost seven years after the shooting, dorsey confessed to the murder of derwin brown. dorsey now says that right after the election, he wrote a note to patrick cuffy saying he should assassinate sheriff-elect, derwin brown. >> apparently, i guess, the only thing to say is he had the same
-- he had the same evil within -- in his heart as i did. >> dorsey told the prosecutor that cuffy replied, quote, we are way ahead of you, and ate the note. >> he thinks he made a mistake and wanted someone to say whether his mistake made him a murderer. >> to me that's not really a confession. it's not the bearing of the soul. it's, well, i did have something to do with it but not really as much as i really want to admit to. >> attorneys say dorsey's confession does nothing to reduce his life sentence. meanwhile, walker and ramsey plan to appeal their life sentences to the u.s. supreme court. some members of the brown family are satisfied, even though they called this partial justice. >> three out of five, i'll take it. three out of five. and they're away for good. for good. >> other family members say the fight for justice will continue until the state compensates them.
>> we're still fighting. we're going to continue to fight. >> patrick cuffy, a free man, lives in st. croix in the u.s. virgin islands where he works as a security guard. >> it was really the biggest injustice of this case is the fact that patrick cuffy is still walking the streets because that guy engineered the assassination of derwin brown. >> a dekalb county police precinct has been renamed for derwin brown. and before she died, phyllis brown accepted a martin luther king distinguished public service award from coretta scott king on behalf of her late husband. >> he stepped up to the plate and he fought for what he believed in. he died for what he believed in. and i know he doesn't have any regrets.