The mayor of a North Carolina city where a Black man was killed by sheriff’s deputies serving a warrant declared a state of emergency ahead of Monday’s expected partial release of body-camera footage from that deadly encounter.
Loved ones of Andrew Brown Jr., 42, were supposed to be shown that body-cam video just before noon on Monday, but were told that the viewing had to be pushed back due to redactions sought by law enforcement, family lawyers said.
“The family should not have to be subject to redactions,” attorney Harry Daniels told reporters outside the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office. “They should see the video raw, raw. I was told by the district attorney the family would get to see the raw footage. If you got nothing to hide, show the tape.”
That delay angered Brown’s family, especially in light of a search warrant affidavit that was released detailing allegations against him and justifying why deputies sought to arrest the man who was later killed.
“They released a warrant saying all kinds of things about Andrew Brown but they want to redact the face of police officers that killed Andrew Brown?” said Benjamin Crump, another attorney representing the family.
“Now Andrew Brown didn’t kill nobody. The police killed Andrew Brown. But we’re going to protect them and not show their face and not say their names so we can see what their rap sheet is.”
Pasquotank County Attorney R. Michael Cox said in a statement Monday that state law allows a private viewing of body camera footage for Brown’s family and that they are working to make that happen “as soon as possible.”
“The law also allows us to blur some faces on the video and that process takes time,” Cox said. “Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. Section 132-1.4A, 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. We hope this occurs today, but the actual time will be driven by the completion of the redactions. We are also continuing to seek transparency within the law and continue our efforts to get a court order that would allow the video to be released to the public.”
Brown was killed Wednesday as deputies sought to serve a warrant for his arrest on felony drug charges, authorities said. A search warrant affidavit, made public on Monday, accused Brown of selling cocaine, crack, meth and heroin.
While circumstances of his death remain unclear, seven deputies have been put on administrative leave in the wake of last week’s fatal encounter. Three deputies have resigned their positions, though a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office says those resignations are unrelated to the shooting.
The shooting occurred in a residential neighborhood in Elizabeth City, which is about 35 miles south of Norfolk, Virginia.
Earlier on Monday, Elizabeth City Mayor Bettie Parker declared a state of emergency ahead of the release of the footage and a potential “period of civil unrest.” The footage can only be publicly released by a judge.
The declaration clears a way for the city to receive state and federal assistance “to protect our citizens,” according to Parker.
The fatal shooting happened when a SWAT-style team tried to serve the warrants last week, sheriff’s officials have said. Brown was a convicted felon with a history of resisting arrest, which meant the procedure was considered to have a higher risk than others, authorities said.
Gov. Roy Cooper has called Brown’s death “tragic and extremely concerning” and called for a state probe “to ensure accountability.”
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