Residents in Elizabeth, N.C., are demanding answers after a Black man was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy serving a warrant Wednesday morning, but details are slowly emerging as to what led up to the fatal incident.
Local station WAVY reports demonstrators in the northeast North Carolina town want transparency after the death of Andrew Brown Jr., 42, a father of 10 children. Witnesses say he entered his vehicle and attempted to drive away from the law enforcement officers serving the warrant. A deputy shot at him several times, striking him. Afterward, he crashed into a tree. Officials, however, have not confirmed any witness accounts. The entire confrontation was captured on the deputy’s body camera, but little else is currently known.
Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble requested that the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation take over the case.
“The sheriff’s office trusts the ability of our North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations and we will be transparent and we will take the proper actions based on the findings of that investigation,” Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten II said at a press conference, noting that he wants “accurate answers, not fast answers.”
Brown’s neighbor and friend Demetria Williams told the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot that he was unarmed when he was shot. “I saw it,” Williams said. “He did not have a gun. He’s not a violent person.” She said police continued to shoot at Brown’s car as he drove away.
The shooting comes on the heels of the guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, and the shooting of Na’Kiah Bryant in Columbus, Ohio, both on Tuesday afternoon. The death of the 16-year-old girl is still under investigation.
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About 25 people gathered peacefully outside the scene of the shooting near Brown’s home. Another friend Alvin Felton, said he was hoping there might be protests, but did not want to see any more violence in the town. “They need to quit using those guns,” he told the Virginian-Pilot. “They can get him another day.”
Meanwhile, about 100 people showed up outside a city council meeting in Elizabeth City where a report from Police Chief Eddie Buffaloe was being given. Mayor Bettie Parker was discussing security protocols with elected officials.
“We want to make sure that we investigate it properly and not quit,” a council member said to the crowd at the meeting. “We want to make sure that all the Ts are crossed and all the Is are dotted,” the Virginian-Pilot reported.
Another member said the police body camera footage should be released to the public. “We have to let our citizens that elected us know that we stand behind them, that we stand behind the Brown family,” the member said.