ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — The family of Andrew Brown Jr., the man shot and killed by law enforcement last week in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, spoke after watching body camera footage of the incident Monday afternoon.
The family was set to see the video at 11:30 a.m. Monday, but that was delayed, after attorneys for the family say law enforcement wanted to add redactions to the video. It was delayed until 1:30 p.m. Around 3:15 p.m., the family emerged from the sheriff’s office to provide details regarding what they saw.
During the media briefing, Brown’s family say they were only permitted to view a short portion, about 20 seconds, of the body camera footage.
The family watched that short clip over and over, between 10 to 20 times.
According to the family, they said the video showed Brown in a vehicle in the driveway and a sheriff’s truck blocking the driveway. His hands were on the steering wheel and deputies ran up to the vehicle.
The family says Brown was trying to drive away from being shot.
An attorney for the family says they lost count how many shots were fired in the 20 seconds that was shown to the family. They added that shots were already being fired when the video started.
They stated that they were able to see the body camera that was the furthest way from the incident.
During the briefing, one of Brown’s sons said he feels he and his family are “against all odds.”
“My dad got executed just by trying to save his own life. The officers were not in no harm of him at all. It’s just messed up how this happened.”
The attorneys for the family say they will provide another media briefing at 11 a.m. Tuesday, during which they plan to provide the results of their independent autopsy.
Pasquotank County officials will once again go to court on Wednesday to release more footage.
None of the bodycam video has been released to the public.
Several hours after Brown’s family viewed the footage, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten and Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg released a recorded video on social media stating that they have filed a motion with the court to release the video publicly.
Sheriff Wooten reaffirmed that the sheriff’s office does not have the power to release the body camera footage.
“Those who claim that the sheriff’s office has the ability to release the video either does not know North Carolina law, or they are purposely trying to inflame a tragic situation,” said Chief Deputy Fogg.
In the video, Sheriff Wooten also explained that the whole incident “was quick and over in less than 30 seconds.”
Wooten added that body cameras are shaky and sometimes hard to decipher. Outside investigators, including the SBI and four other outside sheriff’s offices, are currently conducting their own investigations regarding the incident.
Brown, 42, was shot and killed by deputies last Wednesday during the execution of a search warrant. Witnesses have said Brown was driving away at the time and deputies fired several rounds, killing him.
After the shooting, seven deputies were placed on administrative leave and three resigned. The three who resigned were not directly involved in the shooting, Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten said. One was nearing retirement.
Pasquotank County Attorney R. Michael Cox released a statement shortly after the family attorneys’ press conference at 11:30 a.m. Monday, saying that North Carolina law allows for the blurring of faces “when necessary to protect an active internal investigation.”
Cox said the family will be allowed to view the footage after.
“We hope this occurs today, but the actual time will be driven by the completion of the redactions, Cox said. “We are also continuing to seek transparency within the law and continue our efforts to get a court order that would allow the video to be released to the public.”
Attorneys from the family are demanding the footage be released unredacted.
High-profile civil rights attorney Ben Crump is with the legal team, as well as attorney and former Congressman Bakari Sellers. Crump led the crowd in chants of Andrew Brown’s name and “just show the video.”
“For them to delay this is unacceptable … don’t prolong it because it only builds the mistrust,” Crump told 10 On Your Side’s Jason Marks.
While the family waited to see the video, protests started again in Elizabeth City, including one that shut down the bridge to neighboring Camden County.
Elizabeth City and Pasquotank declare states of emergency
This is all comes as Elizabeth City and surrounding Pasquotank County have declared states of emergency ahead of the public release of the video.
The video is expected to be released to the public sometime after the family views it. WAVY and other media organizations have petitioned the court to order the release of the footage, as well as the Elizabeth City City Council and Sheriff Wooten, per North Carolina Rep. Howard Hunter.
Elizabeth City Mayor Bettie Parker says law enforcement expects a “period of civil unrest” after the release of the video and the order helps mobilize state and federal resources. At this time, the National Guard has not been requested, emergency management officials say, and there is no curfew or restrictions at this time. However some outside agitators may come to the area to cause trouble, officials say.
Local protests have been going on peacefully in the city for days since Brown was killed.
The emergency order went into effect at 8 a.m. Monday, April 26, and will continue indefinitely. City offices are closed and local schools are doing remote learning until the end of the week.
Parker emphasized citizens have the right to peacefully assemble and protest and the city is committed to protecting those rights, but said “our citizens and businesses must be protected from violence or damage.”
North Carolina law requires a court to order the release to the public. People involved in body camera video or other parties such as a family members are allowed to view the video, but the court has to decide whether someone can disseminate that footage.
WAVY also obtained the search warrant in the case on Monday, which says authorities had been watching Brown for more than a year for alleged drug activity. Brown also has two pending drug cases in court.
Brown’s family has acknowledged he had faults, but said he wasn’t a violent person and should not have been killed.
“He was a good guy. Everybody has their flaws. He was trying to get his kids back,” said his brother Antron Brown.