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Andrew Brown Jr. police shooting: Family attorney says video shows ‘execution’

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Few details — and no video — have been released publicly about the shooting. In dispatch audio from that day, first responders can be heard saying a man had gunshot wounds to the back. A copy of his death certificate says he died as a result of a gunshot wound of the head.

On Monday afternoon, after an earlier delay, Pasquotank County Attorney Michael Cox showed Brown’s family and attorneys a short clip from one deputy’s body camera that family attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said showed an “execution.”

Cherry-Lassiter said the video was 20 seconds long and shows deputies shot at Brown as he sat in his vehicle with his hands on the steering wheel. “He wasn’t reaching for anything, he wasn’t touching anything, he wasn’t throwing anything around,” she said.

Brown then put the vehicle in reverse and backed out of the driveway, and police shot at him as he drove off, she said. The vehicle, riddled with bullet holes, then crashed into a tree, she said.

The family’s attorneys decried the lack of transparency and disrespect in only showing a short clip from a single deputy’s body camera. About seven or eight officers, each presumably equipped with a body camera, were on scene, Cherry-Lassiter said.

North Carolina sheriff says he wants footage of Andrew Brown Jr. police shooting made public and may file motion Monday

“They are trying to hide something,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump said. “They don’t want us to see everything.”

Bakari Sellers, a Brown family attorney and a CNN political analyst, said Pasquotank County Attorney Michael Cox tried to prevent several of the attorneys from viewing the video in the first place.

“Mr. Cox told me, a grown Black man, that he was not f***ing going to be bullied,” Sellers said.

Seven deputies have been placed on administrative leave following the shooting, two others have resigned and one deputy retired, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten said. Not all the deputies who were placed on administrative leave discharged their firearms, he added, but they were all part of the warrant operation.

The fatal shooting came just a day after former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd in the most high-profile case of the Black Lives Matter era. Still, the police killings of Brown, as well as others in Ohio and Virginia in the last week, emphasized the pervasiveness of police violence.
The delay in releasing video of Brown’s death also highlights the increasing importance of police body cameras for transparency and accountability. In Columbus, Ohio, officials released body camera footage of the police shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant within hours.

Family calls for transparency

Protesters take to the streets Saturday for the fourth straight day calling for the release of body camera footage of the police killing of Andrew Brown Jr.

According to North Carolina law, police body camera footage can only be released to the public with a court order.

Sheriff Wooten has said the county plans to file a motion in court to have the footage released. A media coalition that includes CNN also filed a petition in a North Carolina state court Monday morning pushing for the release of the video.

Elizabeth City declared a state of emergency Monday morning amid concerns that the video’s release could cause civil unrest. According to the city’s emergency proclamation, city officials will also file a formal request with the Sheriff’s Office for the public release of the video.

“It seems likely that the video and audio footage will be released in the very near future. In order to ensure the safety of our citizens and their property, City officials realize there may be a potential period of unrest within the City following the public release of the footage,” the proclamation says.

Andrew Brown Jr.'s family met with the sheriff, but were not shown bodycam footage of his death

Pasquotank County Sheriff’s deputies were authorized to look for crack cocaine, other controlled substances and “evidence of criminal activity” in Brown’s two vehicles and his residence, according to a search warrant signed by a judge on April 20.

The copy of the search warrant obtained by CNN was marked as “not executed.” In the first news conference on Brown’s death from Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten, Wooten said Brown was killed as deputies were attempting to execute the search warrant. In a later news conference, Wooten stated Brown was killed as deputies served an arrest warrant.

CNN has not been able to obtain the arrest warrant.

According to the search warrant, PCSO Investigator D. Ryan Meads received information from the Dare County Narcotics Task Force in March of 2021 “regarding the illegal sales of controlled narcotics by Andrew Brown residing on Perry St. in Elizabeth City.”

The task force had been in touch with an informant who claimed to have been buying drugs from Brown for over a year, including at his home or at motels/hotels, according to the warrant.

However, Brown’s aunt, Betty Banks, said the family was told that authorities did not find any drugs or weapons in Brown’s car or in his house.

Elizabeth City, located in the northeast corner of North Carolina, has a population of just under 18,000 people, about half of whom are Black, according to the US Census.

CNN’s Kevin Conlon, Jamiel Lynch, Christina Maxouris, Devon M. Sayers, Hollie Silverman and Brian Todd contributed to this report.

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