A Black man was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies in North Carolina last week, leaving many searching for answers in a case that has drawn national attention.
Update: New video and autopsy results
The Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office has released few details after it said at least one of its deputies shot 42-year-old Andrew Brown Jr. while serving arrest and search warrants on Wednesday in Elizabeth City.
As the region grapples with the shooting, lawmakers and civil rights leaders have called for the public release of video from deputies’ body-worn cameras. While Sheriff Tommy Wooten said officials would petition a judge to release the footage, the process could take days.
Here’s what we know — and don’t know — about the shooting that ended Brown’s life.
The Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office said deputies were serving arrest and search warrants at about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday when they came to Brown’s house on Perry Street.
“This is an arrest surrounding felony drug charges,” Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg said in a video statement. “Mr. Brown was a convicted felon with a history of resisting arrest. Our training and our policies indicate under such circumstances, there is a high risk of danger.”
When Brown tried to leave in a car, deputies fired at the vehicle, killing him and leaving the back window shot out, witnesses told The News & Observer.
Officials have not said whether Brown had a weapon or how many rounds were fired by deputies. Neighbor Demetria Williams said she heard gunshots and saw more than 14 shell casings on the ground.
Brown was shot in his back and crashed into a tree, according to police scanner traffic.
It happened a few hundred feet from P.W. Moore Elementary School, which was closed to students for cleaning on the day of the shooting, The N&O reported.
After Brown’s death, seven Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies were placed on leave and three others resigned. A spokesperson has said the resignations weren’t linked to the shooting.
Wooten said the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation was taking over the case.
In the wake of the shooting, community and state leaders have asked for the release of deputies’ body camera footage from the scene.
Well-known civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented the family of George Floyd and is now representing Brown’s family, was in Elizabeth City on Monday to push for the release of the video.
“The most cowardly thing you can do is shoot somebody in the back,” Crump said. “They don’t shoot white people in the back.”
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Officials have not made public the names or the race of the deputies who shot Brown.
“I want to destroy the system that puts us in this position,” said Bakari Sellers, another attorney for Brown’s family. “I want to make sure that in the state of North Carolina they can no longer hide videos from individuals that need to see them. … Sunshine is the best disinfectant.”
Gov. Roy Cooper was among those calling for transparency when he wrote in a tweet that the video “should be made public as quickly as possible.”
Timeline for release
Under North Carolina law, a judge decides whether to release officers’ body camera footage. Law enforcement agencies cannot release it on their own.
Wooten said he hoped Pasquotank County officials would file a court motion Monday to have the footage released.
It could take hours or days to release video after a petition from a law enforcement agency, according to Raleigh attorney Mike Tadych. It could take much longer if members of the public, including the media, make the request.
State of emergency
The anticipation of outrage linked to releasing the body camera video led Elizabeth City to declare a state of emergency on Monday.
“City officials realize there may potentially be a period of civil unrest within the city following the public release of that footage,” the declaration said.
Case draws national attention
Brown was killed less than 24 hours after Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man.
Brown’s death put a national spotlight on Elizabeth City, a predominantly Black community near the Virginia border. Protesters have taken to the streets of the town of roughly 18,000 people to beg for answers.
“Here we are again outraged to hear of yet another Black man dead, allegedly at the hands of those who are supposed to protect and serve,” the NAACP of North Carolina said.
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