(ELIZABETH CITY, N.C.) — A sheriff’s deputy shot and killed a Black man while executing a search warrant in North Carolina on Wednesday, authorities said.
The shooting occurred at approximately 8:30 a.m. ET as deputies from the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office attempted to serve the man — identified as Andrew Brown Jr. — a search warrant at his home in Elizabeth City, about 170 miles northeast of Raleigh. Brown was fatally wounded during the encounter, according to Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten.
“It’s been a tragic day,” Wooten said at a brief press conference Wednesday.
The sheriff told reporters he wasn’t sure of Brown’s age, but court records show he was 42.
The unnamed deputy who fired the fatal shot has been placed on administrative leave pending a review by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, according to Wooten, who vowed to be “transparent and take the proper actions based on the findings.”
“I have put together a team of local law enforcement to come to Pasquotank County to ensure the safety and protection of the citizens in our community,” the sheriff said.
The deputy was wearing an active body camera, but Wooten said the footage can only be released at the order of a judge. The bureau of investigation does have the body camera footage for its investigation.
“We are currently working that right now as hard as we can,” he told reporters. “We will be transparent with this situation, absolutely.”
The sheriff said in a Thursday press conference that Brown was already a convicted felon and his deputies were serving a warrant for felony drug charges.
“If evidence shows that any of my deputies violated the law, or policies, they will be held accountable because that’s what the citizens expect me to do and it’s the right thing to do,” Wooten said Thursday.
Masha Rogers, the special agent in charge of the northeastern district of North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, said investigators will conduct a thorough probe before turning their findings over to Andrew Womble, the district attorney for the state’s first prosecutorial district.
“He will make a determination about any criminal charges,” Rogers told reporters.
Womble said his office will be looking for “accurate answers and not fast answers.”
“This will not be a rush to judgement,” Womble told reporters. “We’re going to wait for that investigation as we’re duty bound to do.”
Further details about the shooting were not immediately available, and Wooten did not go into detail Thursday, saying they didn’t have all of the facts.
Brown’s death is the latest in a slew of officer-involved shootings of Black men, women and children in recent years that have sparked protests nationwide and even overseas.
Dozens of people, some holding signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and “Stop Killing Unarmed Black Men,” gathered on Wednesday at the scene of the shooting in Elizabeth City and outside City Hall where the City Council held an emergency meeting. The crowds grew as the sun set, with hundreds of people blocking traffic on a main thoroughfare of Elizabeth City and another group congregating outside Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office.
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