On Thursday, officials were under increasing pressure to release details about the death of Andrew Brown Jr., a black man who was fatally shot by law enforcement on Wednesday morning in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
Brown was unarmed, said Harry Daniels, the Brown family attorney. Testimony paints a picture of an “unlawful, unjustified murder” in which several police officers were shot while Brown escaped the scene in a vehicle. Daniels said at a press conference on Thursday.
“My understanding is that there is body camera footage of this incident that has not yet been released. There is a lot of speculation – we ask for answers, accountability and transparency,” Daniels said.
In North Carolina, a judge must generally approve the publication of police videos. Daniels emailed USA TODAY that a motion to publish the footage will be made on Friday.
In a video statement Thursday night, Sheriff Tommy S. Wooten said the State Bureau of Investigation had the footage but did not address whether his office had asked a judge to open it to the public. USA TODAY has contacted the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s office for comment.
“The question will likely stem from whether our MPs had reason to believe that Mr Brown’s actions put them at risk of serious injury or death. We will not comment on this because we do not have all the facts,” said vice chairman Daniel Fogg said in the video statement.
Gathering all of the facts on the case “may take some time,” said Wooten.
For some, the sense of relief felt at the guilty verdict of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on the death of George Floyd on Tuesday was short-lived. Reports of more police killings surfaced just hours later, including those of Brown and 16 year old Ma’Khia Bryant, fatally shot by police officers in Columbus, Ohio.
Crowds gathered again Thursday evening for more information on the circumstances surrounding Brown’s death in Elizabeth City, about 170 miles northeast of Raleigh.
The unidentified MPs were serving a drug abuse arrest warrant in Brown’s rental home on Wednesday when Brown was fatally shot and killed, according to the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s office.
According to a witness, Brown was trying to drive away when the shooting occurred.
Fogg said officials from another agency and the local version of a SWAT team were involved because “Mr. Brown was a convicted felon who had previously resisted arrest.” Circumstances led police to believe that their training had shown them to be “high risk,” Fogg said.
The day before the shooting, nearby Dare County had issued two arrest warrants against Brown for substance abuse, including possession with intent to sell cocaine, according to court documents released Thursday.
Demetria Williams, Brown’s neighbor, said The Associated Press She ran outside after one shot and saw the deputy shoot Brown several times. She also said the car slipped off Brown’s yard and hit a tree.
“When they opened the door, he was already dead,” said Williams. “He was slumped.” She said officers were trying to compress Brown’s chest.
Authorities removed a car from the scene that appeared to have multiple bullet holes and a broken rear window, the Associated Press reported.
“My understanding is that Mr. Brown was not armed and the bullets entered the back of the vehicle as if he were leaving the scene,” said Daniels, Brown’s family attorney. “Based on the witnesses who said he was not armed and fled, this is not legal.”
Daniels said he believed three MPs fired their guns and that they were all on administrative leave.
What are protesters asking for?
Signs reading “Release the video” and “We want the truth” were seen, according to a photo, in a crowd of demonstrators who gathered for a second evening of protest on Thursday evening tweeted by a News & Observer reporter.
Live streaming video Thursday evening’s demonstration saw a crowd of protesters raising their fists while blocking an intersection. At one point, protesters appear to have posted signs, including one that read “Black voters matter” on the windshield of a parked police car while music is playing.
The city is public schools said It introduced distance learning on Thursday, “out of community concern and caution,” although it did not specifically cite protests.
Who Was Andrew Brown Jr.
Brown, 42, was quick to joke and smile easily despite difficulties, loss, and problems with the law, his relatives said.
He encouraged his children to get good grades despite dropping out of high school himself. Most of all, he is determined to give them a better life than him, they said.
According to Aunt Glenda Brown Thomas, Brown was partially paralyzed by accidental shooting on his right side, and he lost an eye when he was stabbed – “Drew,” as he was called, was looking for the humor in things.
“He had a good laugh, a beautiful smile. And he had good dimples, “said Thomas in an interview on Thursday, the day after her nephew’s death.” You know, when he talks and smiles, his dimples always show. And he was like a comedian. He always had a nice joke. “
Court records show that Brown had a history of criminal charges dating back to the 1990s, including a drug possession conviction of misdemeanor and several pending drug abuse charges.
According to Daniels, Brown had seven children and cared for others who were not his own. In an email to USA TODAY, Daniels confirmed that he was representing five of Brown’s underage children.
Contributor: The Associated Press