Seven deputies on leave as calls for release of bodycam grow after fatal shooting of Andrew Brown

Courtesy Brown Family

(ELIZABETH CITY, N.C.) — Seven sheriff’s deputies are on paid administrative leave after a deputy shot and killed a Black man while executing a search warrant in North Carolina earlier this week, officials said.

Pasquotank County Manager Sparty Hammett confirmed the personnel changes to ABC News on Friday.

It is unclear if the seven deputies include the one who fatally shot Andrew Brown Jr., 42, at his home in Elizabeth City on Wednesday morning. The unnamed deputy was placed on administrative leave following the shooting pending a review by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, according to Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy 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 deputy was wearing an active body camera during the shooting, but Wooten said the footage can only be released at the order of a judge.

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.

Deputies were serving a warrant for felony drug charges when the shooting occurred, Wooten said.

“We are currently working that right now as hard as we can,” he told reporters Thursday. “We will be transparent with this situation, absolutely.”

Further details about the shooting were not immediately available.

An attorney for Brown’s family has called for 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.”

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.

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