ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — City Council in Elizabeth City has requested an emergency meeting with the Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners in order to help move the community forward following the death of Andrew Brown Jr.
The two governing bodies that answer to the roughly 18,000 people of northeast North Carolina’s largest city have handled the killing of Brown at the hands of Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies quite differently.
Since April 21 — the date of the shooting — City Council in Elizabeth City has had three public meetings to discuss the issue and their response, as well as a press conference with the mayor, city manager and police chief.
The Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners has not met once in that time and canceled their regularly scheduled meeting Monday night without explanation.
Elizabeth City Councilman Darius Horton said he has a problem with the contrast.
“We as a City Council need to have, request, a meeting with the county to discuss our city,” Horton said at the council’s meeting Monday night. “I need to let them know how I feel.”
Horton said there was “a lack of transparency” with some elected officials.
While much criticism has been aimed at Sheriff Tommy Wooten (R-Pasquotank) and District Attorney Andrew Womble (R-Pasquotank) over the release of body camera video of the incident, Horton puts the onus on the commissioners, too.
City officials have been quick to point out since the beginning that though the shooting happened in the city, all the controversy was caused by the county sheriff which receives funding from the county.
“I directed [Andrew Brown’s] funeral and didn’t see any of them there,” Horton said of Pasquotank officials.
Council member Kem Spence shared in his frustration.
“The county commissioners, and I’m not scared to say it, have neglected their people as elected officials,” Spence said.
Several council members also expressed concern with the one statement Commission Chairman Lloyd Griffin (D-Pasquotank County) released several days after the shooting in which he said “people — including some politicians — who want to score political points or become cable news celebrities” were rushing to judgment.
“I don’t care about being on television. I don’t want to go on television. But somebody has got to talk to these people,” Mayor Bettie Parker said. “I think they are taking an approach, that silence can’t be quoted. So if I keep quiet, you can’t quote what I say.”
City Council voted 5-3 to request a meeting with the commissioners within 10 days. Council members Jeannie Young, Chris Ruffieux and Billy Caudle voted against it.
Young mentioned she was afraid a public meeting may not accomplish much if upset citizens are in the room, too.
City Manager Montre’ Freeman also informed City Council he was nearly prepared to lift the state of emergency that was put into place a week earlier. He said he wanted final confirmation from the police chief first.
The curfew that accompanied the order caused controversy among protesters and lead to several nights of riot gear-ready police encounters.
Freeman thanked Elizabeth City State University for housing extra law enforcement officers that came into assist.
Beginning Tuesday, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools is planning to resume the regular schedule for in-person and remote learning, after staying all virtual since Brown’s death.