Police Shot & Killed Andrew Brown — Why Won’t They Release The Bodycam Footage?

Danielle Campoamor
·4 min read

Update: On Tuesday, Wayne Kendall, an attorney for Andrew Brown’s family, said that an independent autopsy revealed Brown was shot a total of five times, including once in the back of the head. “Yesterday, I said he was ‘executed.’ This autopsy report shows me that was correct,” Khalil Ferebee, Brown’s son, said during a press conference. As of now, only Brown’s family has been able to see less than a minute of body camera footage of the police shooting, with an ongoing outcry for the footage to be publicly released.

This story was originally published on April 26, 2021.

Last Wednesday, 42-year-old Andrew Brown Jr. was shot and killed by Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Despite it being yet another police shooting, very little is actually known about the incident, and authorities are now stalling the release of bodycam footage, arguing that the video needs to be “redacted” before it can be viewed by Brown’s surviving family or the public at large. Now, officials in Elizabeth City have declared a state of emergency ahead of the released bodycam footage in anticipation of anti-police protests.

“Show the tape,” Harry Daniels, an attorney representing the Brown family, said. “If you ain’t got nothing to hide, show the tape.”

On Monday afternoon, Brown’s family finally viewed 20 seconds of bodycam footage after being delayed for “several hours” while police redacted parts of it. “The law also allows us to blur some faces on the video and that process takes time,” Pasquotank County Attorney Michael Cox said in a statement to CNN. “This may be done when necessary to protect an active internal investigation.”

During a press conference after bodycam footage was viewed, Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, a lawyer representing Brown’s family described the scene. According to her, Brown was in his car with his hands on the wheel as police approached him already shooting.

“It’s like we’re against all odds in this world. My dad got executed just by trying to save his own life,” Brown’s son, Khalil Ferebee, said during the press conference Monday. “The officers were not in no harm of him at all. This is just messed up how this happened, for real. for real. he got executed. it ain’t right. it ain’t right at all.”

Beyond this one piece of footage, there are few details for the family, or the public, to go off of when attempting to learn what happened on the day Brown was killed. Officers were reportedly attempting to serve Brown a search and arrest warrant before he was shot and killed. The warrants were both related to alleged drug possession. Dispatch audio reveals first responders saying a man “had gunshot wounds to the back.” A death certificate obtained by CNN says the cause of death was a “penetrating gunshot wound of the head” that killed Brown within minutes of being shot. His death is categorized as a homicide. Seven deputies were placed on administrative leave, two others resigned, and one deputy retired, all following Brown’s death, as reported by CNN.

Brown was shot and killed just days after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty for murdering George Floyd. It also follows the police officer shootings of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, 20-year-old Daunte Wright, and 13-year-old Adam Toledo. All of the aforementioned incidents were caught on police body camera: all damning examples of what has become a near-daily occurrence in the U.S.: police officers shooting and killing unarmed Black and brown men, women, and children.

While officials stalled the release of the footage to the public, they wasted no time in declaring a state of emergency, citing the possibility of civil unrest. “It seems likely that the video and audio footage will be released in the very near future,” a statement from the Mayor’s office read. “In order to ensure the safety of our citizens and their property, City officials realize there may be a potential period of unrest within the City following the public release of the footage.” Since Brown was shot and killed, there have been a number of peaceful protests calling for transparency, accountability, and justice.

Per North Carolina Law, law enforcement body camera footage can only be released to the public due to a court order. The proclamation also said city officials would be filing a formal request with the city’s sheriff’s office to release the video to the public, and the county Sheriff Tommy Wooten has said the county also plans to file a motion in court to have the footage released.

“With all these killings going on, I never expected this to happen so close to home,” Ferebee said at a news conference on Saturday. “He left a close and tight family, with each other every day, talking to each other every day. And now I got to live every day, my newborn without even get a chance to meet him at all. And that’s gonna hurt me every day. I just want justice.”

Refinery29 reached out to Pasquotank County officials for comment but did not hear back at the time of publication.

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