Andrew Brown shooting: seven North Carolina deputies placed on leave

Family of 42-year-old said they met with Elizabeth City sheriff but were not shown body-camera footage of his death

After seven North Carolina deputies were placed on leave over the death of Andrew Brown Jr, an African American man shot during the serving of a drug-related warrant, authorities in Elizabeth City added to calls for body camera footage to be released.

Reports have said Brown, 42, was shot in the back on Wednesday as he tried to drive away.

In a press conference on Friday the Pasquotank county sheriff, Tommy Wooten II, expressed condolences to Brown’s family and pledged that if any deputies are found to have violated laws or policies, “they will be held accountable”.

Wooten confirmed that at least one deputy was wearing an active body camera. No timetable was given for release of the footage.

Under North Carolina law, a judge must sign off on release of body-camera footage. But the law also says anyone can file a petition seeking its release. News outlets have filed a petition to a local judge.

The Brown family said they met with authorities but were not shown footage. At a press conference on Saturday, officials including Bettie Parker, the mayor of Elizabeth City, joined calls for more information to be released.

Parker said her lawyers had asked for the footage.

“We were told by our attorney that more than likely we’ll not get it,” she said, adding that that she wanted the law surrounding disclosures of body camera footage changed “as quickly as possible”.

The Elizabeth City manager, Montré Freeman, said he would “hope and trust” the sheriff’s office would release more information.

“I’m trying with everything in me to believe that they’re going to do the right thing,” Freeman said. “I truly believe that the sheriff will, once that information is ready. But time is truly of the essence and I’m going to just focus on protecting people as we work through this process.”

Wooten has said deputies including a tactical team were attempting to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants when Brown was shot. Nearby Dare county issued arrest warrants for Brown on drug-related charges including possession with intent to sell cocaine. Brown had a criminal history dating to the 1990s, including drug convictions.

Recordings of scanner traffic compiled by broadcastify.com include emergency personnel indicating Brown was shot in the back. An eyewitness has said deputies fired as he tried to drive away. A car removed from the scene appeared to have multiple bullet holes and a shattered back window.

In scanner recordings, a woman refers to the address where the warrant was served and can be heard to say: “We are responding. Law enforcement on scene advises shots fired, need [emergency medical services].”

A male voice says: “EMS has got one male 42 years of age, gunshot to the back. We do have viable pulse at this time.”

Someone then says first responders are trying to resuscitate the man. Wooten, the district attorney and the state medical examiner have yet to respond to requests for comment on the scanner recordings. North Carolina’s bureau of investigation also declined to comment.

Brown’s death came just days after the former Minneapolis policer officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd, and amid national controversy over the police shooting deaths of Daunte Wright, 20, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on 11 April and Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, in Ohio on Tuesday.

In Elizabeth City on Thursday, protesters demanded to be told why deputies opened fire in a residential area.

“They fired a shot in a school zone,” said Quentin Jackson, regional director for the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials. “When does this stop? When does it stop?”

Contributor

Edward Helmore and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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