Judge Halts Release of Video In Andrew Brown Shooting
Update 2:22 p.m.
Pasquotank County N.C., Superior Court Judge Jeff Foster decided that body camera video of the shooting of Andrew Brown Jr., by sheriff’s deputies would not be publicly released, however it could still be released after a state investigation, the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot reported Wednesday afternoon.
Brown’s family members had pressed for the release of the full video rather than the 20-second snippet they had been given. The court hearing was to determine if the footage would be released. North Carolina law held back public release of the video without a court order.
However, Foster did order four body cam videos to be released to Brown’s son and to one of the family attorneys within 10 days, but all faces and nametags of the officers at the scene must remain blurred..
At the hearing, Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble argued against the release of the video, saying that it could interfere with the investigation being conducted by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. He also said Brown contacted the deputies with his car while backing up and moving forward before he was shot.
But one of the family attorneys, Chantal Cherry-Lassiter has disputed that version, saying in the 20-second clip she did not see Brown’s car touch any of the deputies.
“We are deeply disappointed by the judge’s decision to not make body camera footage from the involved officers available to be viewed by the public,” Brown family attorneys said in a statement. “In this modern civil rights crisis where we see Black people killed by the police everywhere we look, video evidence is the key to discerning the truth and getting well-deserved justice for victims of senseless murders.
“Just look at the murder of George Floyd,” the statement continued. “If the world had not seen that clear and disturbing footage, there might not have even been an ounce of accountability for those officers. We refuse to be discouraged and vow to keep the pressure on these agencies until we get to the truth. We will not stop saying his name. Andrew Brown Jr.”
Only four seconds elapsed between Pasquotank County Sheriff’s deputies arriving at Andrew Brown Jr.’s Elizabeth City, N.C., home, and then opening fire and fatally wounding him, a newly released video shows.
Family attorney Wayne Kendall told CNN, which obtained the video, that what happened to Brown was “an extrajudicial killing, an execution if you will… Mr. Brown’s car never moved toward those deputies.”
Brown, 42, was killed April 21 when deputies attempted to serve a warrant. As Brown tried to drive away from the deputies, they fired, striking him in the arm four times and in the back of the head, according to an independent autopsy. Three people have resigned from the sheriff’s department and seven more on administrative leave.
The warrant being served on Brown was for alleged narcotics violations, and based on information given to a law enforcement agent in nearby Dare County, N.C., from an informant who claimed to have purchased drugs from Brown, according to the investigative website Carolina Public Press. Whether that is true is unconfirmed. But the warrant, which is required by law to be executed within 48 hours was returned to the county clerk as unexecuted.
Brown’s family was shown a blurred video of body camera footage depicting the shooting. But they were dissatisfied with it, also calling the shooting an “execution.”
“My dad got executed just by trying to save his own life,” Brown’s son Khalil Ferebee told reporters during an afternoon press conference on Monday.
But on Tuesday, Pasquotank County officials pushed back on the notion that Brown was executed. “This is unproven hyperbole that only inflames the community and — should this matter ever go to court — could bias potential jurors,” they wrote on a webpage dedicated to the case.
A court hearing on a public release of unblurred body camera video was set to start Wednesday morning.
Pasquotank County Sheriff’ Tommy Wooten has said that North Carolina law is holding back the release due to the privacy rights of the officers, although he would prefer that it be released.
“I’ve asked the [North Carolina] State Bureau of Investigation to confirm for me that the releasing of the video will not undermine their investigation,” said Wooten in a videotaped statement. “Once I get that confirmation, our county will file a motion in court, hopefully Monday [April 26], to have the footage released.”
But in the footage that was made available to the family, 20 seconds go by showing what family attorney Chantal Cherry-Lassiter told CNN was an attempt to survive the encounter.
“What the 20 seconds shows is that Andrew Brown is not a threat to officers,” she told CNN on Tuesday. “As he was being shot at, Andrew was trying to back away from the officers and save his life, save his own life.”
Meanwhile, Elizabeth City remains under a state of emergency with an 8 p.m. curfew. The FBI Charlotte office has launched an investigation to find out if any federal laws were broken by the deputies in the shooting, according to local station WVEC..