The FBI on Tuesday announced it will conduct a federal civil rights investigation into the death of 42-year-old Andrew Brown, Jr., a Black man whom North Carolina police shot and killed last Wednesday in Elizabeth City while serving an arrest warrant.
The investigation will be a collaboration between the Department of Justice; the US Attorney’s Officer for the Eastern District of North Carolina; and the Charlotte, North Carolina, division of the FBI, a bureau spokesperson said on Tuesday.
“Agents will work closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina and the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice to determine whether federal laws were violated,” Shelley Lynch said. “As this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further.”
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is also reviewing Mr Brown’s death in a separate investigation.
Seven Pasquotank County sheriffs deputies have been put on paid administrative leave as various agencies continue to probe what happened the day Mr Brown was killed.
A key focus so far from Mr Brown’s family is securing the release of all the body camera footage from the day of the fatal encounter. They said on Monday they’ve only seen a small “snippet” of police video, where officers already appeared to be shooting at Mr Brown, who remained compliant and kept his hands on the wheel of his car. By their count, at least seven officers, some with assault rifles, fired a hail of bullets into Mr Brown’s car.
“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.”
The FBI investigation is the latest example of aggressive federal civil rights enforcement under the Biden administration.
On Monday, the Department of Justice announced it will investigate the practices of the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, which was heavily criticized following the killing of Breonna Taylor, an unarmed Black woman accidentally shot during a no-knock drug search last March.
“We will follow the facts and the law wherever they lead,” US attorney general Merrick Garland said on Monday announcing the probe, which will scrutinize the LMPD’s record on searches, stops, seizure, training, discipline, and response to protests.
Last week, the DOJ announced a similar “pattern or practice” investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department, following the conviction of former officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man.
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