The family of Andrew Brown Jr., who was shot and killed April 21 by Pasquotank County, N.C., sheriff’s deputies are calling upon the U.S. Justice Department to get involved in the case after the local prosecutor decided to not charge the officers in the shooting.
District Attorney Andrew Womble announced on Tuesday (May 18) that the officers who attempted to execute a search warrant on drug charges were “justified” in opening fire at Brown, 42, because he placed them in danger when he attempted to escape in his car.
Video footage shown by Womble from four body cameras worn by the deputies shows the moment Brown, who was unarmed, was shot at his home in Elizabeth City, N.C. He said Brown ignored their commands to stop and proceeded to drive toward the deputies, making the vehicle a threat in their perception.
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But lawyers representing Brown’s family blasted Womble’s decision saying that Brown never was any threat to the officers, and argued that he was trying to move away from the deputies rather than trying to strike them.
In a joint statement released late Tuesday, the lawyers, Ben Crump, Bakari Sellers, Harry Daniels, and Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, insisted the Justice Department should become involved.
“We demand that the court release the full video and State Bureau of Investigation report that will help shed some much needed daylight on this case and bring a small measure of justice to this family and this community,” the statement readw. “Because we certainly got neither transparency nor justice today. We request that the Federal Department of Justice intervene immediately.”
Hours after Womble’s announcement, protesters took to the streets of Elizabeth City, expressing their frustrations with what was for them another diversion from justice for a Black man killed by law enforcement.
“As expected, no charges for Andrew Brown,” demonstrators shouted as they marched in a peaceful protest, according to local station WAVY. The community demanded that an independent prosecutor be appointed to investigate the case. Womble’s decision came after the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation finished its probe.
“If this is looked at through the lens of the victim, which is Andrew Brown Jr. and his family — and not the justification of the sheriff’s deputies actions — that this should go forth to a grand jury and let them decide whether or not it needs to be in the courts,” protest organizer Keith Rivers told the station.
Demonstrators told WAVY they will launch an “economic protest” of Pasquotank County in which participants will boycott businesses there to pressure Womble to call on a special prosecutor to the case, although he has reportedly refused to do so.