ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. — The sheriff’s deputies who shot and killed Andrew Brown Jr., an unarmed Black man in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, have been justified of their actions and won’t be criminally charged, a prosecutor stated Tuesday.
The State Bureau of Investigation discovered Brown “drove recklessly and endangered the officers” and “used his vehicle as a deadly weapon” whereas trying to withstand arrest final month, Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble stated at a information convention. He stated the actions of the officers have been according to their coaching.
“Mr. Brown’s death, while tragic, was justified,” Womble stated. “His actions caused the three deputies to reasonably believe it was necessary to use deadly force to protect themselves and others.”
About 70 protesters in Elizabeth City marched in protest Tuesday evening, shouting “No justice, No peace.”
The metropolis has been protesting for nearly a month since Brown was shot on April 21. Many on the street Tuesday evening have been acquainted faces which have been concerned within the protests since final month.
“Get out of your cars and get into the street!” A younger boy, torso poking out from the sunroof of a automobile, shouted by way of a bullhorn.
At a gathering in an intersection, one speaker scoffed on the police’s clarification of the capturing. “So you got to understand,” he stated, “exactly how dumb that they really think we are!”
Brown, 42, was shot April 21 after Pasquotank County deputies tried to serve him with arrest warrants. The deputies shot Brown 5 instances, together with as soon as behind his head, based on an independent autopsy commissioned by his family. Though the official post-mortem report has not been finalized, Womble stated it reveals Brown suffered two gunshot wounds: one nonlethal wound to the shoulder or arm and one other to the again the pinnacle.
The capturing led to widespread protests within the space as demonstrators demanded transparency and the discharge of physique digicam footage. A choose dominated final month that the footage wouldn’t be instantly launched to the general public, however the court ruling allowed the family to see lower than 20 minutes of greater than two hours of video.
On Tuesday, Womble declined to immediately launch copies of the video however performed parts of it throughout the information convention.
Bodycams have not lived as much as guarantees of exposing police misconduct. One reason: The police decide what to release.
Attorneys for Brown’s household disputed the DA’s narrative of the capturing in an announcement Tuesday, saying the car was shifting away from officers, they usually demanded the discharge of the total video to “help shed some much needed daylight on this case and bring a small measure of justice to this family and this community.”
The legal professionals raised questions concerning the rivalry that Brown was driving towards the deputies when he was killed by a shot to the again.
“To say this shooting was justified, despite the known facts, is both an insult and a slap in the face to Andrew’s family, the Elizabeth City community and to rational people everywhere,” they stated within the assertion. “We certainly got neither transparency nor justice today.”
Some experts agreed Brown’s actions did not deserve to be met with deadly force.
Stephanie Hartung, a Northeastern University law professor with an expertise on state and federal criminal procedure, pointed out that Brown was not charged with a violent crime. She said the video unveiled Tuesday indicates Brown was not trying to use his car to injure the deputies but rather to flee them.
Asked what determines when capturing at a suspect in a automobile is justified, Hartung stated, “It’s a function of the severity and the nature and the immediacy of the threat involved. Here, if you look at the underlying warrant and the nature of the crimes alleged, and if you look at the incident itself and the direction of travel relevant to the officers, that threat level doesn’t seem to be elevated in a meaningful way, certainly not to warrant deadly force.’’
Family lawyers called the shooting “unequivocally unjustified,” saying Brown was not armed and did not drive toward deputies or pose a threat.
Womble said Tuesday that deputies “simply couldn’t let him go” because delivering the warrant “was their job on that particular day.”
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, called on federal officials to investigate, adding in a statement: “Public confidence would have been better served with a special prosecutor and by quickly making public the incident footage.”
Womble, a Republican who has said he intends to run for superior court judge in 2022, resisted calls for a special prosecutor.
At the news conference, he showed photos and clips from four body camera videos as officers surrounded Brown’s car, the first time some of the footage had been made public.A video clip shows officers surrounding the vehicle as Brown tries to maneuver away. A deputy is shown near the front of the car before he pulls slightly away when Brown drives forward.
Womble said Brown reversed his car when deputies approached him at his home. One of the deputy’s hands was on the hood of the car, and officers shouted for Brown to stop the car, but “Brown ignored officers’ calls for,” he said. The deputy had to take “evasive motion” to get out of the best way of the entrance left tire.
When Brown accelerated forward, the first shot was fired and entered through the front window of the car, Womble said. He said as Brown’s car continued forward, several shots were fired and one entered the passenger window, striking Brown in the shoulder. Several more entered through the rear passenger’s door and window.
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Womble acknowledged Brown was trying to escape, not necessarily harm the deputies, and said it didn’t matter how fast or slow he was driving.
“When you use a automobile in a fashion that places officers’ lives at risk, that may be a menace,” Womble said. “And I do not care what path you are going – ahead, backward, sideways – I do not care for those who’re stationary, and neither do our courts in our case legislation.”
Womble emphasized the deputies did not shoot until after Brown’s car moved, and the videos seem to confirm that, although he appears to try to avoid them.
Charles “Sid” Heal, a retired commander from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, has written extensively about using nonlethal force. Heal said an officer is justified in using deadly force on the driver of a vehicle “when a suspect is utilizing it to reinforce his potential to kill or injure somebody, or (in extraordinarily uncommon situations) when his escape would endanger others.”
The three deputies involved – Investigator Daniel Meads, Deputy Robert Morgan and Cpl. Aaron Lewellyn – have been on leave since the shooting. The sheriff’s office said Morgan is Black and Meads and Lewellyn are white. In a video statement Tuesday afternoon, Sheriff Tommy Wooten said they will keep their jobs but will be “disciplined and retrained.”
Four others who were at the scene were reinstated after the sheriff said they didn’t fire their weapons.
The deputies were serving two arrest warrants over “the sale of uncontrolled substances” to Brown, Womble said. He said officers were briefed in advance about Brown’s alleged history of possessing and dealing drugs, as well as resisting arrest.
Womble said he had not spoken with Brown’s family about the announcement Tuesday, saying discussions with the family’s attorneys “didn’t go properly.”
“That’s not the best way I’d usually wish to do that,” he said.
The capturing got here in the future after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on all charges within the homicide of George Floyd, prompting protests demanding the discharge of physique digicam footage in Elizabeth City.
Contributing: Christal Hayes, USA TODAY; The Associated Press