Authorities earlier reported that Brown, 42, was trying to drive away from deputies with the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office while they were attempting to serve a warrant for his arrest on Wednesday in Elizabeth City, according to The Charlotte Observer. Demetria Williams, who lived near Brown, told The News & Observer she heard the gunshots and came running outside to find deputies pulling Brown’s body from the car and trying to give him CPR. She told the newspaper she counted 14 shell casings on the scene. “He didn’t get far because the sheriff deputies were in the driveway. He was getting away. He wasn’t a threat,” Williams said.
Description of the police video from the Brown family’s legal team seemed to support Williams’ explanation of what happened. Attorney Bakari Sellers, who is representing the family along with attorneys Ben Crump and Harry Daniels, repeated the words “one body cam, 20 seconds, and an execution,” during the news conference following the video release. Sellers also detailed how Pasquotank County Attorney R. Michael Cox treated both the family and their attorneys before letting the view the video. Cox initially tried to prevent the attorneys from viewing the footage, Sellers said. “We went back and forward, and I just want to say I’ve never been talked to like I was talked to in there,” Sellers said.
“Mr. Cox told me, a grown Black man, that he was not f—king going to be bullied,” Sellers added. He suggested that the sheriff played a role in granting the family and their attorneys access to the video. “And so I walked out, and I want you to know that the sheriff was very very apologetic and diplomatic,” Sellers said.
The fight for transparency started days before the private release of the video. “It’s so important y’all that we not let them sweep this under the rug,” Crump said at a news conference before viewing the footage. Crump told a reporter the county’s failure to release the video in a timely manner tells him that “the police did something that was illegal and against policy and that they don’t want to show it.” He’s asking for the public and the media to continue demanding transparency and accountability.
“Think about it. They’re trying to cover the faces of police officers who killed Andrew Brown but yet they will release all this negative rap sheet on Andrew Brown,” Crump said. “Well, we want to see the rap sheet on the people who actually killed Andrew Brown. Andrew didn’t kill anybody.”
Sellers asked the public to call Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin and ask them why they haven’t signed on to the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, federal legislation that would establish a national standard for the operation of police departments and ban no-knock warrants and chokeholds. “You know, it’s good to protest, but I’m tired of that,” he said. “I’m tired of it being cyclical because I stand next to a young man who joins another club of Black people who will not be able to grow up with their father.”
Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg said in a video statement with Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten on Thursday that Brown’s arrest warrant was related to “felony drug charges. “Mr. Brown was a convicted felon with a history of resisting arrest,” the sheriff said. “Our training and our policies indicate under such circumstances, there is a high risk of danger.”
Deputies who fired the shots have been put on administrative leave and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations is leading the investigation into Brown’s death. “I’ll tell you what I know to be factual, but I will not prejudge anything or draw any conclusions until we have all the facts, and that may take some time,” Wooten said in the video statement.
Elizabeth City issued a state of emergency on Monday after “numerous news media outlets” took steps “to secure a court order directing the Sheriff’s office to release those tapes,” according to the declaration. Officials explained that the declaration was enacted “to ensure the safety of our citizens and their property” despite what the city described as “peaceful” protests on its Facebook page. Cox said in a statement 13News Now obtained before the release of the body-camera footage that while the law allows a private viewing of the footage it also “allows us to blur some faces on the video and that process takes time.” “As soon as these redactions are complete, we will allow the family to view the footage,” he said.