Andrew Brown Jr. is a North Carolina man whose family says was “executed” by sheriff’s deputies who were serving drug-related search and arrest warrants in Elizabeth City.
Outrage has erupted because authorities have not released the bodycam video from the shooting to the public. Authorities have released very few details about what happened to Brown. Brown’s family and lawyers were allowed to see a partial excerpt – only 20 seconds – of the video.
The mayor declared a state of emergency as protests grew. In North Carolina, releasing the bodycam video publicly requires the approval of a court. The sheriff has petitioned a court for its release.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. After Seeing Part of the Video, Brown’s Lawyers & a Family Member Said His Death Was an ‘Execution’
Attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said in a news conference that Brown was not threatening officers when he was shot.
“Let me be clear. This was an execution,” she said.
“My dad got executed just by trying to save his own life,” said Khalil Ferebee, one of Brown’s children. “Those officers were in no harm of him at all.”
“It was a straight-up execution,” said attorney Wayne Kendall. He said it’s against police protocol to shoot into a moving vehicle not posing a threat to officers.
The shooting occurred around 8:30 a.m. on April 21, 2021, WAVY reported. In their initial news conference, authorities declined to provide any details beyond saying the fatal shooting occurred in a search warrant execution and releasing Brown’s name.
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II said, “it’s been a tragic day.” He said it started with a search warrant by deputies. “Andrew Brown Jr. was fatally wounded during this search warrant,” he said. An outside agency is investigating. The deputy who fired was from Pasquotank County and is on administrative leave.
“It is tremendously early in this investigation,” Wooten said, promising that eventually all of the details “will come out.”
Masha Rogers of the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation promised a thorough investigation. She said authorities would not answer any questions about the details of the case because it was “early in this investigation.”
The local district attorney called it a “tragic day.”
In the news conference, Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Brown’s family, said: “We do not feel that we got transparency. We only saw a snippet of the video…Why couldn’t the family see all of the video? They only showed one body-cam video, even though we know there were several.”
Crump added: “What is on this video that is so damning that you would risk losing your job so the people can’t see the video? What is it?” He mentioned the Derek Chauvin conviction. “Is that the reason they’re trying to hide the video? Because they don’t want accountability?” Crump asked.
He asked “why they keep killing so many unarmed black people who are running away from them? Don’t we have a right to due process?…Sheriff Wooten just show the video.”
2. Family Attorneys Say Brown Was Shot in the back of the Head & Wasn’t Threatening Officers
Andrew Brown Jr.’s death was “caused by these officers with a bullet wound to the back of his head that caused him to lose control of the vehicle and crash into a tree,” family attorney says. pic.twitter.com/f63LGp9Or6
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 27, 2021
A private autopsy report was commissioned. It showed Brown died from a “penetrating gunshot wound to the head,” said Crump. “It was a kill shot to the back of the head.” Attorney Wayne Kendall said there were five penetrating bullets wounds to his body. The initial shots were through the front windshield of the vehicle he was located in, he said.
Mr Brown had his arms up on the steering wheel of the vehicle he was located in. There were four bullet wounds to his right arm,” said Kendall. “These bullet wounds…were more or less glancing shots. They were not fatal shots. So he was able to back up as these shots were coming into the vehicle, turn the vehicle around, spin off into a vacant lot, and at that time he was hit in the back of the head…that was the fatal bullet wound…that was the cause of death.”
Cherry-Lassiter described what she saw on the 20 seconds of bodycam video that was played:
Andrew Brown was in his driveway. The sheriff truck blocked him in his driveway so he couldn’t exit his driveway. Andrew had his hands on his steering wheel. He wasn’t reaching for anything. He wasn’t touching anything… He had his hands firmly on the steering wheel. They ran up to his vehicle shooting. He still… sat in his vehicle with his hands on the steering wheel while being shot at. Now keep in mind this is 20 seconds… we watched it over and over and over to make sure we were clear on what was going on and what was transpiring. He finally decides to try to get away and he backs out, not going towards the officers at all. There was no time in the 20 seconds we saw where he was threatening the officers in any kind of way. He was trying to evade being shot. So he backs out, not forward, but backs out away from the officers who are still shooting at him shouting stop it mother f***** damn mother f*****. Constant obscenities yelled at him while he’s being shot at in the driveway of his home. He finally backs out and then he goes around to get out of danger still avoiding any interactions with officers. They’re still shooting at him while he’s driving off. He runs into a tree and they’re still running behind him. They were still shooting at him after he crashes into a tree. His car is riddled with bullets. There were shell casings before he even backed out. We only saw 20 seconds. There were things that transpired before what we saw.”
“Be advised EMS has one male, 42 years of age, gunshot to the back,” a first responder said in dispatch audio, according to USA Today.
According to journalist Jason Marks of WAVY, “We’re told the man was shot in his car.”
WAVY further reported that Brown was shot as he “got into his car and started to drive away, witnesses say.” Neighbors heard “anywhere from 6 to 8 shots,” the television station reported.
3. A Relative Described Brown as a ‘Wonderful Father,’ With an Infectious Laugh
“RELEASE THE TAPE”: Protesters marched in Elizabeth City, NC, calling for the release of the full bodycam video showing the police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr., a 42-year-old Black man.
Brown’s family was only allowed to view 20 seconds of the video. https://t.co/GCKZJT1mJV pic.twitter.com/D41Sbnutb0
— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 27, 2021
A relative, Jadine Hampton, told Heavy in an interview that Brown “had a beautiful smile, infectious laugh.” She said he was “a great story teller like a comedian. A wonderful father, who pushed his kids to be honor roll students even though he never finished school.”
Hampton wrote on Facebook, “My cousin is gone. Body still there and this happened hours ago.” She added, “💔😭. The last time I saw my cousin in October, we talked more than we ever have. Lots of laughs. Now I know why. R.I.P. Jr.”
“He was my first cousin,” she told Heavy in an interview. “He was 10 years younger, and we didn’t grow up together very close but always saw each other at my grandparents’ house on Christmas every year as kids. Most recently in October, we celebrated my grandmother’s birthday and he was there. We exchanged numbers with hopes of him visiting me in Atlanta once the pandemic lifted. He had a beautiful smile, infectious laugh. A great storyteller like a comedian. A wonderful father, who pushed his kids to be honor roll students even though he never finished school. He loved his family and would do anything to help. A huge heart. Never known to be violent or carry a gun that I’m aware. He will be missed and my family is heartbroken over this.”
On the shooting, she said, “I don’t have any details, except he was being served and ran to his car, and police opened fire.”
4. Brown Had a Lengthy Criminal History
— Jason Marks (@jasonmarkswavy) April 21, 2021
According to Fox News, was described in the search warrant and other records “as a drug dealer in the Pasquotank County area and had a criminal rap sheet over 180 pages long and dating back to May 1988.”
Fox reported that the initial search warrant was “signed off by North Carolina Superior Court Senior Resident Judge Jerry R. Tillett on April 20” and states that Agent R.D. Johnson of the Dare County Narcotics Task Force “was in communication with a confidential source who said they had been purchasing narcotics from Brown for over one year. The informant claimed that they had purchased different quantities of cocaine, ‘crack’ cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine from Brown on numerous occasions.”
According to Fox, on March 17, the Dare County Narcotics Task Force conducted a recorded “controlled purchase” of cocaine from Brown and a recorded purchase of meth from him on March 29.
The warrants said agents were “familiar with Brown and know him to be a source of supply of ‘crack’ cocaine, cocaine, heroin/fentanyl and methamphetamine to the Elizabeth City/ Pasquotank County area.”
WSPA-TV reported that, according to Marks, “police have formed a line blocking the area where Brown was killed. His body was placed under a blue tent, and it was still there as of 12:30 p.m., hours after the shooting.”
5. Brown Was a 40-Year-old Father
— Jason Marks (@jasonmarkswavy) April 21, 2021
According to WSPA, Brown was the father to 10 children. He was 40 years old. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is leading the probe into what happened.
On social media, people claimed the man was unarmed. “Police was serving a warrant, shot and killed an unarmed man and he had been laying on the ground for 2 hours,” claimed one person on Facebook.
Authorities have not confirmed nor denied the claim that Brown was unarmed.
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