On Thursday, against the background of chants from the protesting crowd yelling “release the tapes,” Pasquotank County, N.C., Sheriff Tommy Wooten released the names of seven deputies involved in the shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. on April 21 in Elizabeth City.
"After reviewing the preliminary conclusions of the independent investigators conducting the internal review, and after carefully examining the body camera footage of the incident with my own staff, it's obvious that four of the deputies never fired their weapons and deserve to be reinstated to active duty," Wooten said in the Thursday statement.
“More investigation is necessary into the three deputies who did fire their weapons and they will remain on administrative leave pending completion of the internal investigation and/or the criminal investigation being conducted by the State Bureau of Investigation,” he added.
Also in his statement, Wooten said in a statement that it's "obvious" from footage of the incident and preliminary investigation that four deputies did not discharge their weapons. Those four deputies have received the clearance to return to duty.
The seven deputies identified by Wooten were:
• Investigator Daniel Meads (on administrative leave)
• Deputy Sheriff II Robert Morgan (on administrative leave)
• Cpl. Aaron Lewellyn (on administrative leave)
• Lt. Steven Judd (active duty)
• Sgt. Michael Swindell (active duty)
• Sgt. Kenneth Bishop (active duty)
• Sgt. Joel Lunsford (active duty)
According to the details filed in the autopsy report with his family’s consent, Andrew Brown Jr. was shot five times, including once in the back of his head.
The deputies were present at Brown's home in Elizabeth City to serve warrants for his arrest on drug charges. Body camera footage with their faces blurred shows them firing at Brown as he attempts to drive off. His family has blasted their actions, calling it an “execution.”
“The sheriff's truck was in front of his vehicle. He had to back out. They were shooting. They were just immediately shooting from the first second of the video,” Brown family attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said in an interview with NPR earlier this week. “He had to back out to get away from the gunfire. And he went around into a yard to the side near his house, through the grassy area, and was driving away, and they were continuously shooting through the back window. He crashed into a tree, and you could see them still running towards him, shooting even after the car had crashed into a tree.”
Despite multiple calls for body camera footage to be released, a judge denied a request, barring the release for the time being.
RELATED: Release Of Bodycam Video In Andrew Brown Police Shooting Halted By Judge
For the ninth consecutive night, crowds protested law enforcement’s handling of Brown’s shooting. “They murdered an innocent man by execution-style,” said Elizabeth City Councilman Michael Brooks, according to local station WAVY.
The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into Brown's death with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper calling for a special prosecutor to take up the case.
Photo: Family Photo/CBS News
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