The deputies who shot and killed Andrew Brown Jr., an unarmed Black man in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, will hold their jobs however be “disciplined and retrained,” Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten stated Tuesday.
The Pasquotank County district lawyer on Tuesday introduced a state investigation found Brown endangered the deputies by utilizing his automobile as a lethal weapon whereas resisting arrest final month. The deputies concerned – Investigator Daniel Meads, Deputy Robert Morgan and Cpl. Aaron Lewellyn – had been justified of their actions and won’t face felony charges, District Attorney Andrew Womble stated.
Morgan is Black and Meads and Lewellyn are white, in accordance to the sheriff. Four others who had been on the scene had been reinstated after the sheriff stated they didn’t fireplace their weapons.
The resolution prompted protests Tuesday evening in Elizabeth City, about 170 miles northeast of Raleigh. About 70 folks gathered to demand transparency and the discharge of physique digicam footage.
Brown, 42, was shot April 21 as county deputies tried to serve him with arrest warrants over “the sale of uncontrolled substances,” Womble stated.
The deputies shot Brown 5 instances, together with as soon as behind his head, in accordance to an independent autopsy commissioned by his family. Though the official post-mortem stories haven’t been launched, Womble stated Tuesday an post-mortem confirmed Brown suffered two gunshot wounds, together with one to the again the top.
Here’s what we know.
Brown’s household disputes prosecutor’s narrative
Family legal professionals have previously called the shooting “unequivocally unjustified,” saying Brown was not armed and didn’t drive towards deputies or pose a menace.
They reiterated that sentiment following the information Tuesday, disputing Womble’s narrative and saying Brown’s automobile was transferring away from officers. In an announcement, in addition they demanded the discharge of the total physique digicam video and raised questions about the rivalry that Brown was driving towards the deputies when he was killed.
The household has considered quick clips of physique digicam footage, however the movies haven’t been launched publicly due to a courtroom order.
“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,” lawyer’s for Brown’s household stated within the assertion. “We certainly got neither transparency nor justice today.’
Why have we not seen body camera video?
Despite a lawsuit and outraged pleas from community members, Womble declined to directly release copies of the body camera videos. But Tuesday, he played clips during the news conference for the first time publicly.
A ruling last month by a North Carolina superior court judge prevented the public release of the video and limited the family to seeing 20 minutes of more than two hours of available video. It also allowed the faces of the deputies to be redacted.
The judge previously said footage may be released to the public after the completion of the state investigation to prevent any potential threats to the safety of those in the video and to ensure a fair and impartial trial if the deputies were to face charges.
It is unclear if the footage will now be released.
What we know about the video
Photos and clips from four body camera videos played at the news conference Tuesday showed officers surrounding the vehicle as Brown tried to maneuver away. A deputy is shown near the front of the car before he pulls slightly away when Brown drives forward.
In Womble’s description of the video, he 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,” Womble said. The deputy had to take “evasive motion” to get out of the way in which 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 additional shots were fired.
He emphasized the deputies did not shoot until after Brown’s car moved, and the videos seem to confirm that, although Brown appears to try to avoid the deputies.
Attorneys for Brown’s family dispute what the videos show.
Earlier this month, family attorney Chance Lynch said Brown’s family viewed six clips, including one dash camera tape and five body camera videos from deputies.
Lynch said Brown’s hands were visible at all times as deputies screamed conflicting commands for Brown to both show his hands and get out of the car. Lynch said after the first shot, Brown reversed the car before moving forward. He said the officers they could see in the footage were not near the vehicle and weren’t in his path.
“We didn’t see any actions on Mr. Brown’s half the place he made contact with them or tried to go of their route. In reality, he did simply the other,” he said.
Meanwhile, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, called on federal officials to investigate.
“Public confidence would have been better served with a special prosecutor and by quickly making public the incident footage,” he said in a statement.
‘I know a con sport after I see it’:Al Sharpton calls for release of Andrew Brown Jr. bodycam at funeral
Experts raise questions over whether deadly force was required
An officer is justified in using deadly force on the driver of a vehicle “when a suspect is utilizing it to improve his capacity to kill or injure somebody, or (in extraordinarily uncommon situations) when his escape would endanger others,” said Charles “Sid” Heal, a retired commander from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department who has written extensively about using nonlethal force.
Brown’s actions did not deserve to be met with deadly force, said Stephanie Hartung, a Northeastern University law professor with an expertise on state and federal criminal procedure. She emphasized that Brown was not charged with a violent crime.
The video unveiled Tuesday indicates Brown was not trying to use his car to injure the deputies but rather to flee them, she added.
“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,” Hartung stated.
Bodycams have not lived up to guarantees of exposing police misconduct. One reason: The police decide what to release.
Who is the district lawyer?
In an announcement Tuesday, household attorneys criticized Womble’s resolution to not pursue felony charges in opposition to the deputies.
“Andrew Brown Jr., his grieving household, and this neighborhood deserve solutions,” the statement said. “And they acquired something however from D.A. Womble’s try to whitewash this unjustified killing.”
Womble was appointed the first ever public defender for North Carolina’s First Judicial District in 2004. In 2013, Womble was nominated to serve the final year in the term of Frank Parrish, who died in office as the district attorney for the state’s First Judicial District.
Womble’s tenure as prosecutor since then has included his decision to seek the death penalty for four prison inmates charged in the 2017 murders of a prison manager, a mechanic and two corrections officers.
Womble introduced in March that he wouldn’t run for reelection as district lawyer in 2022. Instead, he plans to search a state superior courtroom judgeship, The Daily Advance in Elizabeth City reported.
Contributing: Christal Hayes, Jorge L. Ortiz, Kevin McCoy, USA TODAY; The Associated Press