Video released of police shooting Andrew Brown as prosecutor says his killing was justified

Mr Brown was killed while sheriff’s deputies were trying to execute an arrest warrant

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 18 May 2021 19:00
Body camera footage of Andrew Brown Jr shooting played at press conference

A district attorney in North Carolina said the police killing of Andrew Brown Jr was justified.

District Attorney Andrew Womble made the judgement on Tuesday after reviewing the results of a probe carried out by the state’s Bureau of Investigation.

Mr Brown was shot and killed by Pasquotank County sheriff‘s deputies on 21 April while they were trying to serve him an arrest warrant.

According to Mr Womble, the warrant was related to drug charges. He claimed Mr Brown was “dealing heroin and fentanyl on a daily basis”, which was “killing people”.

Deputies claimed Mr Brown tried to ram them with his car, while the attorneys representing Mr Brown’s family claim his hands were visible and that he had been ambushed by the police, but posed no threat to them when he was shot.

Police body camera footage of the shooting was presented to the public on Tuesday during a press conference.

The video shows a group of police officers arriving at Mr Brown’s home in the back of a pickup truck before attempting to encircle his car and execute their warrant.

The officers quickly surround him with guns drawn, prompting Mr Brown to throw his car into reverse, after which he pulls forward and to his left in an attempt to escape.

The first shot fired at Mr Brown occurred while his car was in reverse and at least several feet away from the police.

During the press conference where the body camera footage was shown, Mr Womble said he did not support the release of the full video due to the graphic nature of Mr Brown’s wounds, which he called “disturbing”.

Chance Lynch, the attorney representing Mr Brown’s family, claimed there was no instance in which Mr Brown appeared to be threatening the lives of the deputies surrounding his car.

“At no point did we ever see Mr. Brown make contact with law enforcement,” Lynch told reporters. “We were able to see where they possibly reached out to make contact to him, but we did not see any actions on Mr. Brown’s part where he made contact with them or try to go in their direction. In fact, he did just the opposite.”

Mr Lynch said there were so many shots fired at Mr Brown that he lost count of them.

“There were so many shots, that we found difficulty in counting the number of shots that his vehicle received. At some point, there was a final shot, where it appeared that at that final shot Mr. Brown lost control,” he said.

The shooting spawned protests, with members of Mr Brown’s family and those who oppose his death claiming the deputies’ actions amounted to an “execution”.

Bakari Sellers, an attorney representing Mr Brown’s family, took to Twitter to condemn Mr Womble’s judgement.

“#AndrewBrown was not using his vehicle as a weapon. The ‘contact’ was minimal at best & initiated by officers. He was beyond law enforcement when multiple shots were fired, including kill shot to the back of head,” he wrote.

Mr Sellers also pointed out that four of the officers on the scene did not fire their weapons, suggesting they were not in fear for their lives.

The family’s legal team has called on Mr Womble to be removed from the investigation, claiming the district attorney’s connections to the Elizabeth County Sheriff’s Office make an objective investigation impossible.

“Womble’s involvement would be a miscarriage of justice for Andrew Brown Jr., his family, and the people of Elizabeth City,” Mr Sellers said.

Ultimately, Mr Womble said there would be no criminal charges brought against the deputies involved in the shooting.

“As tragic as this incident is with the loss of life, the deputies on the scene were nonetheless justified in defending themselves from death or great bodily injury,” he said.

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