ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (AP/WNCN) — The sheriff of a North Carolina county where a man was shot and killed by deputies this week said Saturday that he would seek to have body camera video released of the shooting as early as Monday.
Andrew Brown Jr., a 42-year-old Black man in Pasquotank County in eastern North Carolina was shot and killed early Wednesday when deputy sheriffs tried to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants.
An eyewitness has said Brown was shot dead in his car in Elizabeth City as he tried to drive away. A car authorities removed from the scene appeared to have multiple bullet holes and a shattered back window.
His slaying sparked an outcry as hundreds demanded the release of body camera video. Seven deputies have been placed on leave.
Under North Carolina law, a judge must generally sign off on the release of law enforcement body camera footage.
“We want the body camera footage made public,” Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten said in a video released Saturday afternoon.
Wooten said he would ask the N.C. SBI if releasing video would jeopardize the state’s investigation into the shooting.
Wooten said if he gets the go-ahead from the SBI, his office would file a motion “hopefully Monday” to have the video released.
Leaders of the Elizabeth City government have demanded the release of the footage, and a coalition of media filed a petition in court to make it public. The state’s Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statement calling for the swift release of the footage.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein also released a statement Saturday about the release of the video.
“I believe the bodycam video should be made available to the family and released publicly without undue delay. Transparency is critically important in situations like this,” Stein’s statement said.
“People in Elizabeth City and across North Carolina are hurting, and they are understandably engaging in protests in response to this tragic loss of life. I urge them to do so peacefully and lawfully,” Stein added.
Relatives described Brown as a doting father who always had a joke to tell. He also had a difficult life. His mother was killed when he was young, he was partially paralyzed on his right side by an accidental shooting and lost an eye in a stabbing, according to an aunt, Glenda Brown Thomas.
He also had troubles with the law, including a misdemeanor drug possession conviction and some pending felony drug charges. The day before he was killed, two arrest warrants were issued for him on drug-related charges including possession with intent to sell cocaine, court records show.
Officers have so far said little about why they fired, but his family is determined to get answers.