Elizabeth City, NC – The family of 42-year-old Andrew Brown Jr. released an autopsy report on Tuesday morning that showed Brown was killed by a bullet to the back of his head and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced it had opened a civil rights investigation into it a few hours later.
Brown’s family met with Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County officials on Monday to view 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.
Protesters have marched every day since in Elizabeth City to demand officials release the bodycam video of the deputy-involved shooting.
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 claim 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.”
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy S. Wooten called the incident “quick” in a video statement and said outside investigators were still working on the case, NBC News reported.
“This tragic incident was quick and over in less than 30 seconds, and body cameras are shaky and sometimes hard to decipher,” Sheriff Wooten said. “They only tell part of the story.”
He asked the community to be patient while an independent investigation of the shooting was conducted, NBC News reported.
“Outside investigators both from SBI [North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation] and four other sheriff’s offices are interviewing witnesses and gathering more information,” the sheriff explained.
Notorious anti-cop attorney Benjamin Crump is also representing the dead man’s family and he complained that police had released the warrants that were being served on Brown for dealing cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, and heroin, NBC News reported.
Authorities have said they needed time to blur faces in the videos.
Pasquotank County Attorney R. Michael Cox said in a statement on April 27 that state law “allows us to blur some faces on the video and that process takes time,” NBC News reported.
Crump called for all of the full, unredacted bodycam videos to be released to the public.
“They released a warrant saying all kinds of things about Andrew Brown, but they want to redact the face of police officers that killed Andrew Brown?” he ranted to reporters at a press conference after the family viewed the bodycam clip.
“Now, Andrew Brown didn’t kill nobody,” Crump answered himself. “The police killed Andrew Brown. But we’re going to protect them and not show their face and not say their names so we can see what their rap sheet is.”
Yet another attorney for the Brown family, Wayne Kendall, presented an autopsy report commissioned by the family on Tuesday morning, 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,” 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.
Officials have not said when they planned to release the bodycam video to the public and identify the law enforcement officers who shot Brown.
On Friday, Sheriff Wooten announced that three deputies had resigned from the sheriff’s department and seven more had been placed on administrative leave in connection with the incident.
Elizabeth City City Manager Montré Freeman said he thought the footage should be released, NBC News reported.
“I am completely flabbergasted at that move,” Freeman said. “You know, when you have bodycam, the most transparent thing to do is to show all of it, and unfortunately, that did not happen yesterday, and I wish I had an answer for you.”
An FBI spokesman confirmed Tuesday afternoon that there was a federal investigation into the deputy-involved shooting underway, WTKR reported.
“The FBI Charlotte Field Office has opened a federal civil rights investigation into the police involved shooting death of Andrew Brown, Jr. Agents will work closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina and the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice to determine whether federal laws were violated. As this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further,” the agency said in a written statement.