ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. – Public pressure to see the body camera footage of North Carolina sheriff's deputies fatally shooting a
Black man grew after the man's family and lawyers described his death as an "execution" after reviewing a partial clip.
An attorney for the family of Andrew Brown Jr., who was shot and killed by Pasquotank County deputies last week, said the man was shot in the back of the head while another lawyer said Brown did not appear as a threat at the time of the shooting.
Sheriff's deputies were serving drug-related search and arrest warrants in Elizabeth City last Wednesday when multiple deputies fired shots, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten has previously said.
Seven deputies are on leave pending a probe by the State Bureau of Investigation.
Brown's death sparked protests and calls for accountability as activists have called for the full body camera footage to be released. The shooting occurred one day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd.
Brown's family saw a 20-second portion of the video Monday and provided the first description of what occurred during the shooting.
The sheriff's office and prosecutor have released few public details and have not released the footage. Pasquotank County Sheriff Office Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg said in a Monday video statement that county attorney R. Michael Cox filed a motion to release the video and the sheriff's office would comply with a judge's order.
More on Andrew Brown Jr.:Brown's family says police 'executed' him, then only showed a 20-second video clip from bodycam
Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, one of the attorneys representing the Brown family, said the 20-second clip showed Brown with his hands on the steering wheel and not a threat to deputies, who fired as he backed his vehicle out and tried to drive away.
“They’re shooting and saying, ‘Let me see your hands’ at the same time,” Lassiter said, adding, “Let’s be clear. This was an execution.”
Henry Daniels, another attorney for the family, said Brown was shot in the back of his head. Dispatch audio from the shooting indicated Brown had been shot in the back.
“My dad got executed just by trying to save his own life,'' said Khalil Ferebee, one of Brown's seven children. "Those officers were in no harm of him at all.''
Wooten said Monday the shooting was "quick" and occurred over the course of 30 seconds.
"Body cameras are shaky and sometimes hard to decipher. They only tell part of the story," he said after the family viewed the partial footage.
State law allows for family members and attorneys to view bodycam footage in similar cases, but public release of video requires a judge's approval. Brown's family, however, said authorities delayed showing them the footage and limited the amount they could see.
“They’re trying to hide something,” said civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is also representing the family. Crump's office said attorneys would be releasing an independent autopsy in the case Tuesday.
Family seeks answers:Why did police fatally shoot Andrew Brown Jr.?
A warrant for Brown released Monday said investigators used information from an informant, including recordings of drug buys. Court documents said an informant told an investigator the person had been buying drugs from Brown for over a year. Narcotics officers also conducted controlled purchases from Brown twice, according to the warrant.
Crump said the information in the warrants was released to cast Brown in a negative light.
Elizabeth City, a city of 18,000 residents, about half of them Black, is in eastern North Carolina.
Protests sparked by the shooting have generally been peaceful, but Monday, Mayor Bettie J. Parker declared a state of emergency ahead a possible release of the video. The emergency status will continue “until deemed no longer necessary to protect our citizens,” the declaration stated.
Students at Elizabeth City State University, a historically black university, were told to gather their belongings and leave their dorms by noon Tuesday in the wake of the emergency declaration.
Classes were already scheduled to end after this week, but the university ended on-campus instruction for the remainder of the school year. Students learned Sunday they had to vacate campus and were told final exams scheduled for next week must be taken online.
“It's a bit of a shock to be honest,” said ECSU freshman Noah Jacobson.
Contributing: John Bacon, Jorge L. Ortiz and Will Carless, USA TODAY; The Associated Press