The sheriff of a small, quiet county not far from North Carolina’s Outer Banks says his office could ask a judge as soon as Monday to release body camera footage of his deputies fatally shooting a Black man last week.
But Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten also said that he would first check with the State Bureau of Investigation to ensure that releasing the video would not compromise the probe of the shooting.
“We know people want answers; we know you’re angry,” Wooten said in a Facebook video. “We ask for your patience and support as we work to do the right thing.”
Andrew Brown Jr., 42, was fatally shot Wednesday by deputies serving warrants in Elizabeth City, the county seat and home to fewer than 18,000 residents, about half of them Black. Few details of the shooting have been released. A first responder can be heard on dispatch audio saying, “Be advised EMS has one male, 42 years of age, gunshot to the back.”
Harry Daniels, an Atlanta attorney representing the Brown family, said Brown, a father of seven, was shot in the back by deputies as he was attempting to run away. Daniels told USA TODAY the family has asked to see the video – they are entitled under North Carolina law – but thus far has been rebuffed.
Why did police fatally shoot Andrew Brown Jr.? Family seeks answers
The Rev. William Barber II, a North Carolina civil rights leader who heads the Poor People’s Campaign, took the family’s case to his pulpit Sunday, saying that a “warrant is not a license to kill.” Barber spoke of numerous white people suspected of heinous killing sprees who were taken into custody unharmed.
“Far too often if you are Black or brown or poor you can be unarmed and still get killed,” Barber told his congregation. “But police are not on-the-spot executioners. They are not judge and jury. This is not the mythological Wild West, dead or alive.”
Brown was killed the day after a former Minneapolis police officer was convicted of murdering George Floyd, whose death was caught on video that ignited a wave of national protests venting outrage over police treatment of people of color.
North Carolina police promise transparency in Andrew Brown Jr. shooting
Seven deputies at the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Department have been put on paid administrative leave since the shooting.
Pressure for release of the video has been rising. State law is clear that family members and attorneys of people shown in the video should be allowed to view the footage, said C. Amanda Martin, a Raleigh, North Carolina, attorney who specializes in communications. But requests for copies of body camera video, even from a victim’s family members or their attorney, must be made in writing to a Superior Court judge, Martin said.
Gov. Roy Cooper called the shooting “concerning” and urged the State Bureau of Investigation to examine thoroughly to ensure accountability.
“Initial reports of the shooting in Elizabeth City and death of Andrew Brown Jr. this week are tragic and extremely concerning,” Cooper said in a social media post. “The body camera footage should be made public as quickly as possible.”