‘Moral emergency’: NC NAACP, Repairers of the Breach and AME Zion Church meet Tuesday with Elizabeth City pastors

North Carolina

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — As protesters continue to press for the public release of body camera footage from a fatal deputy-involved shooting last week in Elizabeth City, faith leaders and activists declared a “moral emergency.”

Pastors in the Elizabeth City area, the president of the North Carolina Conference of the NAACP, and the president of a group called Repairers of the Breach, met Tuesday afternoon with attorneys for Andrew Brown Jr.

Brown was shot and killed as Pasquotank County deputies were executing a search warrant at a home on Perry Street on April 21. Since then, activists have protested for seven days straight, demanding body camera footage be released to the public.

The meeting was held privately at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Mount Lebanon AME Zion Church, at 320 Culpepper Street in Elizabeth City.

Afterwards leaders of the meeting held a press conference to discuss their collective frustration with how Brown’s case is being handled by local officials.

They listed some clear demands.

First, the faith leaders want all the video footage from the time Brown was shot and killed to be released.

They’re also calling on the North Carolina General Assembly to pass a law making police body camera video public record.

Also Tuesday, the Rev. Dr. William Berber II said District Attorney Andrew Womble has proven himself unable to handle the case and called for him to hand the case over to the North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Womble has not made the request to hand the investigation over.

Gov. Roy Cooper also released a statement Tuesday afternoon calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor to handle the case.

On Tuesday, Stein tweeted this out: “A number of people have asked me to take over this prosecution. I want to clarify that under North Carolina law, the District Attorney, not the Attorney General, controls the prosecution of criminal cases. For my office to play a role in the prosecution, the District Attorney must request our assistance. My office has reached out to District Attorney Andrew Womble to offer that assistance, which he has acknowledged.”

Civil rights attorney Harry Daniels attended the meeting. Others in attendance included Bishop William J. Barber II, president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach; the Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, president of the North Carolina conference of the NAACP; and the Rev. Javan Leach of Mount Lebanon AME Zion Church.

“Our faith demands justice in the courts and justice in every aspect of life,” said Bishop Barber II, who also is co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. “What we see happening in Elizabeth City with a man shot in the back and the inept way the investigation is being handled by the district attorney and sheriff is a moral failure.” 

The family of Brown has expressed frustration that they’ve so far only seen 20 seconds of body camera video, which was shown to them on Monday.

Some family members called Brown’s shooting an “execution.”

The faith leaders will meet again Wednesday morning at 11:30 a.m. to march from Mt. Lebanon AME Zion Church to the spot on Perry Street where Brown was killed.

BELOW: Watch the briefing.

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