Andrew Brown Jr died of a gunshot to the back of his head, lawyers for Mr Brown’s family said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a press conference in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, attorney Ben Crump summarised an autopsy report commissioned by Mr Brown’s family, which he said revealed that police shot Mr Brown five times. The fatal shot, he said, was the fifth one.
“Now you all know from the death certificate that it was a penetrating gunshot wound to the head,” Mr Crump began. “But ... what they did not know was it was a kill shot to the back of the head.”
Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies shot and killed Mr Brown last Wednesday as they attempted to serve him with an arrest warrant, according to the sheriff’s office. Witnesses say police shot Mr Brown as he was driving away from officers.
On Tuesday, the details offered by the Brown family’s lawyers appeared to be consistent with those witness accounts. According to them, Mr Brown was hit four times in his right arm by bullets that came in through his windshield, and then shot from behind, in his skull, as he tried to drive away.
Attorney Wayne Kendall said it was this fifth shot that was the “cause of death”.
“So he was able to back up – as these shots were coming into the vehicle – he was able to back up, turn the vehicle around, spin off across a vacant lot, and at that time, he was hit in the back of the head here, and that is the fatal bullet wound.”
As he explained these details, Mr Kendall complained that the county had not yet provided the family with either video footage of the shooting or an autopsy report.
“We commissioned a private individual autopsy report because we don’t have access to anything that’s official,” he said.
Mr Brown’s family have said they were only shown a brief “snippet” of what they believe is extensive body camera footage of the incident.
After a private viewing on Monday morning, the family told media members that the video shows seven or eight officers, including some armed with assault rifles, firing a hail of bullets at Mr Brown, who keeps his hands on the wheel of his car and complies with officers’ commands.
“As my eight-year-old daughter would understand, they are trying to hide something,” civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the Brown family, said on Monday. “They don’t want us to see everything.”
Attorneys for the family said a court appearance on Wednesday could lead to a full release of the footage.
Prior to showing the family the footage, Pasquotank County Attorney R Michael Cox said in a statement that officials had delayed releasing the video to blur out faces so as to protect sensitive details in an active investigation.
“The law also allows us to blur some faces on the video and that process takes time,” he said. “This may be done when necessary to protect an active internal investigation. As soon as these redactions are complete, we will allow the family to view this footage.”
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