N.C. Prosecutor Clears Cops Who Killed Andrew Brown Jr., Says Deadly Force Was 'Justified'

·3 min read

The North Carolina district attorney investigating a police shooting cleared the sheriff’s deputies who shot and killed an unarmed Black man because, apparently, North Carolina law allows police officers to kill people based on the cops’ imagination.

On Tuesday, North Carolina District Attorney Andrew Womble announced that the four officers who shot and killed Andrew Brown Jr. will not face criminal charges, citing evidence that he totally made up contained in a report that no one can see.

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“The deputies faced both actual and apparent danger as perceived by them on the scene,” Womble said. “This apparent threat was reinforced by Brown’s dangerous and felonious use of a deadly weapon. As tragic as this incident is with the loss of life, the deputies on scene were nonetheless justified in defending themselves from death or great bodily injury.”

Brown was killed on April 21 when Pasquotank County deputies tried to serve a search warrant at his Elizabeth City, N.C., home. An autopsy showed that the 46-year-old died from a single “kill shot to the back of the head.” Still, Womble said he based his decision on a report from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation that will not be publicly released. The 44-second clip showed that Brown actually stopped to prevent his car from hitting the deputies. Cops appeared to keep firing assault weapons from more than 20 yards away before Brown crashed into a tree.

No deputy was injured.

CNN reports:

The videos show that uniformed law enforcement officers arrived in a marked police truck to arrest Brown and surrounded him as he sat inside his vehicle.

They ordered him to stop the car, Womble said, but Brown instead reversed his car into a corner, pulling a deputy who was trying to open the car door off his feet. Brown then accelerated forward and turned left in his attempt to flee, forcing the deputy to jump out of the way and use his arm to push away from the vehicle, the videos show.

After Brown’s vehicle drove toward the deputy, a sergeant on scene then fired into the front window, the videos show. The car continued forward, and officers fired several more shots at Brown from the side and through the back windshield, he said. Brown’s vehicle accelerated across a vacant lot and drove at another officer sitting in an unmarked police vehicle, which accelerated to avoid a collision, Womble said.

“To say this shooting was justified, despite the known facts, is both an insult and a slap in the face to Andrew’s family, the Elizabeth City community, and to rational people everywhere,” said family attorneys Ben Crump, Bakari Sellers, Harry Daniels and Chantel Cherry-Lassiter in a statement. “Not only was the car moving away from officers, but four of them did not fire their weapons—clearly they did not feel that their lives were endangered. And the bottom line is that Andrew was killed by a shot to the back of the head. Interestingly, none of these issues were appropriately addressed in today’s press conference.”

“It’s very clear what was going on: He was trying to escape; he was not trying to ram his car into officers,” said Duke University Law professor Jim Coleman, who teaches criminal law. “The people firing from the side and behind, they were never in danger.”

Although some may disagree with Womble’s definition of “real and apparent danger,” the danger to the officers cannot be ignored.

According to Officer Down, in the past five years, a grand total of zero police officers in North Carolina have been killed by vehicular assault.