(ELIZABETH CITY, N.C.) — The family of a 42-year-old Black man who was shot to death by a North Carolina sheriff’s deputy outside his home last week accused law enforcement authorities on Monday of walking back their promise to show relatives raw body camera footage of the deadly confrontation.
The family members of Andrew Brown Jr., a father of seven, and their attorneys said during a news conference outside the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Department in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, that they were expecting to see the video at 11:30 a.m. ET. But an hour before the meeting they were informed of an unexpected delay.
Harry Daniels, one of the lawyers for the Brown family, said he received an email at 10:29 a.m. on Monday from Pasquotank County Attorney Michael Cox that redactions were being made to the video.
“I was told by the district attorney that the family will get to see the raw footage, not the redacted version,” Daniels said. “These county administrators are walking back the promises they have made. Show the tape. If you ain’t got nothing to hide, show the tape.”
Cox released a statement Monday saying that while state law allows the county to show the body camera video to Brown’s family in private, state law “also allows us to blur some faces on the video and that process takes time.”
“This may be done when necessary to protect an active internal investigation,” Cox said in his statement.
He said officials are working as quickly as possible to show the video to Brown’s family.
“As soon as these redactions are complete, we will allow the family to view this footage,” Cox said. “We hope this occurs today, but the actual time will be driven by completion of the redactions.”
Ben Crump, another attorney for the Brown family, said if the video had showed Brown doing something wrong, “they would have no problem showing that video.”
Brown’s relatives, including several of his children, attended the news conference but did not speak.
“It only seems to be [that] when the video has the police doing something wrong, then they’ve got to redact, then they don’t want to show it,” Crump said.
Seven Pasquotank County deputies involved in the shooting that erupted last Wednesday morning in Elizabeth City have been placed on administrative leave while the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation probes the circumstances of the deadly encounter. Wooten said a Pasquotank deputy, whose name has not been released, fired the fatal shot and was wearing an active body cam at the time.
In advance of the viewing by Brown’s family, Elizabeth City Mayor Bettie Parker declared a state of emergency for her city on Monday morning. The emergency declaration went into effect at 8 a.m. and Parker said it will last “until deemed no longer necessary.”
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II said he plans to file a motion with a judge to release the video to the public as soon as the state Bureau of Investigation confirms that doing so will not undermine the investigation. Wooten said he could file the request as early as Monday.
“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 potentially be a period of civil unrest within the city following the public release of that footage,” Parker, who is Black, wrote in the order.
City offices in Elizabeth City, the county seat of Pasquotank County, were closed on Monday and government meetings, including a budget work session, were canceled.
Parker’s order came despite peaceful protests that have occurred for five straight days in Elizabeth City since Brown’s death.
The Pasquotank County Sheriff Department has released few details of the shooting in the town of 18,000 people.
The shooting unfolded about 8:30 a.m. on April 21 when deputies from Pasquotank and Dare Counties went to Brown’s home to attempt to serve an arrest warrant on Brown that stemmed from a felony drug investigation, officials said.
Deputies opened fire on Brown’s car as he attempted to drive away from his home. A first responder was recorded on 911 dispatch saying Brown was shot in the back.
Brown was pronounced dead at the scene.
Wooten declined to say how many deputies discharged their weapons in addition to the one who fatally shot Brown.
The shooting occurred one day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man.
Brown’s family said police found no weapons nor drugs in Brown’s vehicle or home.
Wooten promised to be transparent about what occurred at Brown’s home.
“If any of my deputies broke any laws or violated any policies that come out through this investigation, they will be held accountable,” Wooten said.
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