Waverly L. Brown (1935–1981) was a Nyack, New York, police officer who was killed in the line of duty during an infamous 1981 armed robbery of a Brinks Armored Car, along with fellow Nyack officer Edward O'Grady II and Brinks security guard Peter Paige. The event garnered national headlines and led to the arrest and imprisonment of several people who were involved, many of whom were members of the Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army.
Prior to his law enforcement career, Brown served in the United States Air Force and participated in the Korean War. In 1966, he became the first African American member of Nyack's police department . By 1981, he had served with the department for 15 years. Nicknamed "Chipper", he was well liked by his fellow officers, and often cooked meals for them during his shift .
1981 armed robbery
On October 20, 1981, heavily armed members of the Black Liberation Army ambushed a Brinks armored car parked in front of the Nanuet Mall in Nanuet, NY. One guard was killed and another was severely wounded. Following the attack on the guards, the robbers took several bags of cash and fled the scene, ditching their van and entering a waiting U-Haul truck in a nearby parking lot, driven by Weatherman Underground members. An alert college student saw the robbers entering the U-Haul and called the police, triggering an intense police search for the truck.
At the intersection of Route 59 and Mountainview Ave., Nyack Police Officers Waverly Brown, Brian Lennon, Sgt. Edward O'Grady, and Detective Artie Keenan pulled over the truck and ordered the driver to exit the vehicle with their guns drawn. A woman later identified as Kathy Boudin subsequently exited the truck with her hands in the air, feigning innocence, and pleaded with them to put down their guns.
At this point, the officers started to wonder if they had the wrong truck, but suddenly the rear door of the U-Haul flew up, the robbers stormed out, and immediately opened fire on the startled police. Officer Brown was killed almost instantly. Sgt. O'Grady managed to fire all 6 shots from his service revolver, but was hit multiple times by M16 fire and died shortly after being transported to a local hospital. The other officers survived the shootout with minor injuries, while the suspects fled the scene in multiple directions.
On October 23, NYPD detectives in Queens, New York attempted to pull over a car bearing a license plate that was linked to a getaway vehicle used in the Brinks robbery. The two suspects, Samuel Smith and Nathaniel Burns, in the car tried to evade the police, but Smith was killed in a shootout after firing on the pursuing officers, while Burns was arrested after his own gun jammed.
An ensuing investigation carried out by the police and FBI led to the arrest of several more suspects charged with involvement in the robbery, including senior BLA member Donal Weems (A.K.A. Kuwasi Balagoon), and Marilyn Buck, who supplied the robbers with weapons and let them use her apartment to plan the robbery. The last suspect to be arrested was the ringleader of the robbery, Jeral Williams, in 1986.
Clark, Brown, Gilbert, Williams, and Weems were all sentenced to terms of 75-years to life in prison. Unlike her fellow Weatherman members, Boudin decided to recognize the legitimacy of the court system and work out a plea bargain. She was sentence to a term of 20-years to life and was paroled in 2003. Buck was sentenced to 50-years to life for her role in the robbery and several other charges.
Brown was survived by his mother and three children, all of whom also served in the Air Force just as their father did. His son, Gregory, followed in his father's footsteps, joining the United States Postal Police .