Elizabeth City, NC – The district attorney charged with investigating the deputy-involved shooting of Andrew Brown said bodycam video showed Brown struck deputies with his vehicle before he was shot and called the family’s characterization of the incident “patently false.”
Brown’s family held a press conference on Tuesday after they viewed bodycam footage from the April 21 warrant service that led to his death, NBC News reported.
Deputies from Pasquotank and Dare counties executed search and arrest warrants at Brown’s home and the suspect tried to flee in his vehicle and was fatally shot.
The family told reporters after their meeting with officials that they’d only been shown a 20-second clip from one bodycam when it was clear there were multiple deputies on the scene.
Chantel Cherry-Lassite, a family lawyer, said the video showed Brown inside his vehicle in the driveway that was blocked in by law enforcement, NBC News reported.
“Andrew had his hands on his steering wheel. He was not reaching for anything. He wasn’t touching anything,” Cherry-Lassite said.
“He had his hands firmly on the steering wheel,” she continued. “They run up to his vehicle shooting. He still stood there, sat there in his vehicle, with his hands on the steering wheel while being shot at.”
The attorneys claimed deputies started shooting at Brown before he tried to drive away, NBC News reported.
“His car was riddled with bullets, shooting him when he was not threatening them in any form or fashion,” Cherry-Lassite said. “There were shell casing before he even backed out. So they were shooting at him when he was sitting there with his hands on the steering wheel in the driveway.”
But District Attorney Andrew Womble, the prosecutor for North Carolina’s First Judicial District, told the judge during a hearing about the bodycam video on Wednesday that the family was wrong, WSOC reported.
Womble called the Brown family’s assertions “patently false” and said that officers shouted commands and tried to open the car doors before any shots were fired, the Associated Press reported.
The district attorney said Brown’s car made contact with deputies twice before they shot at him.
“As it backs up, it does make contact with law enforcement officers,” he said, and added that Brown stopped the car again, WSOC reported.
“The next movement of the car is forward,” Womble told the judge. “It is in the direction of law enforcement and makes contact with law enforcement. It is then and only then that you hear shots.”
The hearing was to determine whether all the bodycam video should be shown to the family and released to the public, WSOC reported.
Protesters have marched in the city every night since Brown was shot demanding full disclosure of the videos.
On Friday, three deputies resigned and four were place on administrative leave pending investigation in connection with the incident.
Brown’s family released an independent autopsy report to the public when they talked about what they saw on the initial 20-second bodycam clip, NBC News reported.
The family hired forensic pathologist Dr. Brent Hall from Boone to conduct an independent autopsy on Brown.
Hall determined that Brown had been shot four times in the right arm and once in the back of his head, a shot that penetrated his skull and brain, NBC News reported.
The pathologist’s report said the shot to Brown’s head was fired at “intermediate” range and went from “bottom to top, left to right and back to front.”
“This, in fact, was a fatal wound to the back of Mr. Brown’s head as he was leaving the site trying to evade being shot at by these particular law enforcement officers that we believe did nothing but a straight up execution,” Brown family attorney Wayne Kendall told reporters.
The North Carolina Office of the Medical Examiner, which is tasked with conducting autopsies for suspicious deaths in Pasquotank County, has not yet released their report, NBC News reported.
The judge on Wednesday ruled that all of the video related to the incident would be shown only to two members of the Brown family and one of their attorneys within 10 days, after the sheriff’s department had an opportunity to redact approved material including names on uniforms and some conversations between supervisors.
However, at the request of Womble, the judge ordered the bodycam to be withheld from the public for at least 30 days for investigatory purposes, and released within 45 days, the Associated Press reported.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) is investigating the deputy-involved shooting.
On Tuesday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Charlotte Field Office announced that it had begun a civil rights investigation into the incident.