PASQUOTANK COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side talked exclusively with Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten a day after the local district attorney announced deputies were “justified” in the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City last month, and would not face charges.
Sheriff Wooten said he found out the news about District Attorney Andrew Womble’s decision not to charge the deputies when the public did on Tuesday.
Brown was shot and killed by deputies on April 21 while he was in a car on Perry Street in Elizabeth City. Deputies were attempting to serve a drug-related search and arrest warrant at the time.
On Tuesday, Womble pointed to the fact that state law only requires deputies to have a “perception of an apparent threat” to use deadly force in the case. He said Brown was a deadly threat through the general use of his car when he tried to drive away from deputies.
Both Womble and Wooten have called the incident tragic, but said that no law was broken.
BELOW: Watch the full bodycam footage shown Tuesday (muted due to obscene language)
Shortly after the announcement, Wooten released a video saying all deputies involved will be returning to work. He also said his department can do better moving forward, and the deputies involved will be “disciplined” and “retrained.”
Wooten gave clarification on that statement on Wednesday.
He maintains the deputies did not violate the department’s use-of-force policy when they shot and killed Brown.
He said the discipline he was talking about in Tuesday’s statement was for small policy infractions — two of the deputies didn’t have their body cameras turned on, and the deputies should have had EMS on standby — although Wooten said EMS would not have been able to save Brown’s life.
As for retraining, Wooten clarified “more training” would have been a better use of words. He said deputies acted in line with proper training for use of force.
“My initial reaction was relief and relief in the situation,” Wooten said about hearing the news that none of his deputies face criminal charges. “You know I agree with the decision wholeheartedly as it pertains to the law, and just to have that conclusion, you know we got to this point, let’s now start moving forward.”
Wooten said Tuesday he would again petition the Superior Court for the release of the unredacted body camera footage to Brown’s family and the public. He filed the petition in court Tuesday afternoon, according to court documents. Wooten said he will also release parts of the internal investigation and the independent expert’s preliminary report as soon as he’s legally able.
“This should have not happened this way at all … I continue to pray for [the Brown family] and hope they find peace,” Wooten said in his statement on Tuesday, referring to Brown’s family.