The fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. by deputies of North Carolina last week is just one of the latest incidents of police officers killing unarmed African Americans. Residents of Elizabeth, N.C., are demanding answers from law enforcement and calling for accountability as details about the tragic event slowly come to the surface.
The Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office has released sparse details after it said at least one of its deputies shot Brown, 42, while serving arrest and search warrants last Wednesday (April 21).
As the community faces the reality of another killing by law enforcement, lawmakers along with civil rights activists have been on the front lines calling for the release of video footage from deputies’ body cameras. Although Sheriff Tommy Wooten said that officials would petition with a Superior Court judge to release the footage, the process could take days. As the public outcry grows louder, Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble requested that the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation take over the case.
So far, here’s what is known about the death of Andrew Brown:
• According to the footage, Andrew Brown had his hands “firmly” on the wheel of his vehicle and he was unarmed. “Let’s be clear, this was an execution. Andrew Brown was in his driveway. After viewing the body cam footage, Chantel Lassiter, the family’s attorney said, “The sheriff truck blocked him in. Andrew had his hands on his steering wheel. He was not reaching for anything. He was not touching anything...At no time in the 20 seconds that we saw was he threatening the officers in any kind of way. He was trying to evade being shot. So he backs out, not forward, away from the officers.”
• The bodycam footage from the police officers is only for 20 seconds. Family members of Andrew Brown have characterized his death as an “execution” citing that they only had access to the 20-second video. "This tragic incident was quick and over in less than 30 seconds and body cameras are shaky and sometimes hard to decipher," Sheriff Wooten said.“We do not feel that we got transparency,'' said attorney Benjamin Crump, who is co-representing the family, at a news conference. "We only saw a snippet of the video. ... And they determined what was pertinent. Why couldn’t the family see all of the video? They only showed one body-cam video, even though we know there were several.’ Gov. Roy Cooper also has demanded footage be released "as quickly as possible."
• An independent autopsy released on April 21 revealed that Brown was shot five times, once in the head. Wayne Kendall, one of the family’s attorney’s said that Brown was shot through the front windshield and left him with four wounds. “He was able to back up as these shots were coming into the vehicle,” Kendall explained. Although the state medical examiner is also performing an autopsy, it will take months before the results are released to the public
• Because of the fatal incident, seven deputies are on one administrative leave, according to CBS News. Three other deputies resigned, although, according to local station WVEC. "I can assure the public if any of my deputies -- I've said this before and I'll say it again -- if any of my deputies broke any laws, violated any policies that come out through this investigation, they will be held accountable," Pasquotank County Manager Sparty Hammett told reporters.