(ELIZABETH CITY, N.C.) — The community and family of a Black man fatally shot by a deputy executing arrest and search warrants in North Carolina earlier this week are calling for the body camera footage capturing the incident to be released.
Andrew Brown Jr., 42, was killed as deputies from the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office attempted to serve the warrants at his home in Elizabeth City on Wednesday morning. Details of what led to the shooting have not been released by authorities. Deputies were serving warrants related to felony drug charges when the shooting occurred, the sheriff’s office said.
The deputy was wearing an active body camera during the shooting, authorities said, which could provide some answers as to what happened. The community has demanded the sheriff’s office and district attorney release the footage, though that can only be done at the order of a judge, according to Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten.
During an emergency meeting Friday, Elizabeth City Council members agreed to file a court order if the sheriff’s office denies their request to release the body camera footage.
A letter asking for the footage to be released to the public will be delivered to the sheriff’s office Monday, according to Elizabeth City Manager Montré Freeman. The sheriff has three days to respond, at which point the city can then petition the court for its release, he said.
“We felt it necessary to make the request for it to be released not only for the citizens of the city, but so that the family could get some closure in this process,” Freeman said during a press briefing Saturday.
“I’m trying with everything in me to believe that they’re going to do the right thing,” he later said.
Gov. Roy Cooper has also called for the release of the footage “as quickly as possible.” Protests in the days following the shooting have also demanded the release of the footage.
Keith Rivers, president of the Pasquotank County branch of the NAACP, demanded the sheriff’s resignation if the footage isn’t released.
“Let us see what is on those tapes,” Barber said during a press briefing Saturday afternoon with Brown’s family. “You have an obligation to this family.”
Community leaders called for at least Brown’s family to see the tapes at this point.
“They can handle the truth, but they can’t handle the silence,” Rev. William Barber, the former head of the North Carolina NAACP, said.
One of Brown’s aunts remembered him as a “good father” to his seven children.
“I know that his children are going to miss him. We are all going to miss Andrew,” Glenda Thomas said Saturday. “He did not deserve what was done to him.”
Amid demands to see the footage, Wooten issued a video statement posted to Facebook Saturday, saying the office is in fact seeking the video’s release.
“I’ve asked the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to confirm for me that the releasing of the video will not undermine their investigation,” Wooten said. “Once I get that confirmation, our county will file a motion in court, hopefully Monday, to have the footage released.”
Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg, who also said the office is “committed to transparency,” announced that the department has asked the state’s sheriff association to appoint an outside sheriff’s office to conduct an internal investigation.
“We will fully cooperate with the work of the outside investigator, and we will hopefully begin that process immediately,” Fogg said in the video.
Wooten asked for the public’s patience “as we work to do the right thing.”
“We want transparency, accountability and peace,” he said.
An attorney for Brown’s family has called for further transparency in the investigation.
“Local authorities continue to say they’ll act transparently, but we’ve seen anything but since the tragic killing of Andrew Brown Jr.,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump said in a statement Saturday. “We don’t have the names of the officers, we don’t have bodycam footage, and we don’t know what transpired except what is being reported by witnesses. This family and the Elizabeth City community deserve answers now.”
In the wake of the shooting, seven unnamed sheriff’s deputies were placed on paid administrative leave Friday. Pasquotank County Manager Sparty Hammett confirmed the personnel changes to ABC News.
It is unclear if the seven deputies include the one who fatally shot Brown. The unnamed deputy was placed on administrative leave following the shooting pending a review by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, according to Wooten.
Three deputies have also resigned, Hammett said Friday, though a sheriff’s office spokesperson told ABC News the resignations were not related to the shooting incident.
Wooten sent his condolences to the Brown family in a Facebook Live video posted Friday and said he would hold any deputies accountable if they broke the law, adding there were “a lot of unknowns and misconceptions out there.”
“I can assure the public, if any of my deputies — I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again — if any of my deputies broke any laws, violated any policies that come out through this investigation, they will be held accountable,” he said.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation will turn its findings over to the district attorney for the state’s first prosecutorial district, who will decide on any possible criminal charges, authorities said.
ABC News’ Will Gretsky, Joshua Hoyos, Sabina Ghebremedhin and Morgan Winsor contributed to this report.
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