The family was able to view about 20 minutes of footage from dash and body cameras that has not been made public. They said it did not show Mr. Brown threatening, or even making contact with, officers.,
Andrew Brown ‘Was Not a Threat,’ Family Lawyer Says
During a news conference on Tuesday, Chance D. Lynch, the lawyer for the family of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man who was fatally shot by North Carolina sheriff’s deputies, said that Mr. Brown had been “ambushed” by officers.
What I saw today absolutely corroborates what attorney Lassiter shared with us when she was only able to see 20 seconds. We were able to see Mr. Brown sitting in his vehicle as he was ambushed and as the sheriff’s office made their way to his residence. Appearing to be surprised, it appears that he was possibly on the phone. At all times, his hands were visible. At all times, you can see that he was not a threat. There was a shot fired. When the shot was fired, he put the car in reverse, putting several feet, if not yards, away from the police who were there. He turned his wheel to the left to turn it away from the law enforcement officers. At no point did we ever see any police officers behind his vehicle. At no point did we ever see Mr. Brown make contact with law enforcement. We were able to see where they possibly reached out to make contact to him. But we did not see any actions on Mr. Brown’s part where he made contact with them or tried to go in their direction. In fact, he did just the opposite. At all times what we saw were police officers standing on the pavement unloading their weapons.
During a news conference on Tuesday, Chance D. Lynch, the lawyer for the family of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man who was fatally shot by North Carolina sheriff’s deputies, said that Mr. Brown had been “ambushed” by officers.CreditCredit…Travis Long/The News & Observer, via Associated Press
ATLANTA — Family members of Andrew Brown Jr., the Black man fatally shot last month by North Carolina sheriff’s deputies, on Tuesday were given a second opportunity to view body and dash camera footage of his killing.
After viewing a redacted but more extensive chunk of the recordings, they and their legal team came to the same conclusion they had before: The footage, they said, did not show Mr. Brown threatening, or even making contact with, law enforcement officers as he tried to flee in his car as deputies attempted to detain him.
This account of events does little to resolve the two very different versions of what the recordings of the episode — which have not been made public — purportedly show. In an April 30 court hearing, R. Andrew Womble, the local district attorney, said that the video footage he reviewed shows Mr. Brown’s car making contact with deputies as he tried to drive away.
This contention is potentially crucial to any case against the three Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies who shot at Mr. Brown on April 21. Their fate may hinge on the question of whether Mr. Brown’s manner of driving posed a credible threat to their safety.
Mr. Brown’s family members viewed the footage privately Tuesday afternoon in a government building in Elizabeth City, N.C., a majority-Black city of about 18,000 residents where Mr. Brown, who had a history of drug-related arrests, grew up and lived. Protesters there have taken to the streets, repeatedly and peacefully, to denounce the shooting, calling it an act of police brutality, and demanding that officials make public the full two hours of body and dash camera video.
In North Carolina, however, such videos can be released to the public only with a judge’s approval. At the April 30 hearing, Judge Jeffrey B. Foster agreed with Mr. Womble that the footage should not be immediately released, citing, among other things, concerns about the integrity of the ongoing investigation.
A protest in April over the police killing of Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City, N.C.Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times
But Judge Foster allowed the family to privately view about 20 minutes of footage recorded by a dash camera and several body cameras as deputies sought to serve drug-related warrants on Mr. Brown.
The faces of deputies were blurred out in the videos shown Tuesday to the family members, who had previously been invited by county officials to view a 20-second snippet from one body camera.
At a news conference after Tuesday’s viewing, Chance D. Lynch, a lawyer who reviewed the recordings with the family, said that the six videos they watched did not show Mr. Brown making contact with any deputies as he tried to flee from his home in his BMW sedan.
“We were able to see where they possibly reached out to make contact to him,” Mr. Lynch said of the deputies. “But we did not see any actions on Mr. Brown’s part where he made contact with them or try to go in their direction. In fact, he did just the opposite.”
Mr. Lynch said that what he saw squared with the 20-second snippet viewed five days after the shooting by the family and another lawyer, Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, who said at the time that the video clip she saw showed Mr. Brown’s “execution.”
According to Mr. Lynch, the videos he saw Tuesday showed Mr. Brown’s hands visible as deputies engaged with him. When the deputies arrived on the scene, Mr. Lynch said, they were yelling different commands to Mr. Brown. “Some of them were saying, ‘Show your hands,’ another was saying, ‘Get out,'” he said.
A shot was fired, Mr. Lynch said, at which time Mr. Brown, 42, put his car in reverse, placing him “several feet if not yards away from the police who were there.” Mr. Brown then turned his car away from the officers, Mr. Lynch said.
“At no point did we ever see any police officers behind his vehicle,” he said. “At no point did we ever see Mr. Brown make contact with law enforcement.”
As Mr. Brown turned to go across a yard by the side of his house, Mr. Lynch said, a second shot was fired. Mr. Brown, he said, picked up speed, making tracks in the turf, while the police began “unloading their weapons.”
“There were so many shots that we found difficulty in counting the number of shots that his vehicle received,” Mr. Lynch said. “At some point there was a final shot, where it appeared that at that final shot Mr. Brown lost control.”
The car then traveled across the street and hit a tree.
No weapons were found in the car, Mr. Lynch said. “My friends, I would suggest to you that it was absolutely and unequivocally unjustified,” he said of the shooting.
In an email Monday, Mr. Womble, the prosecutor, said he would not be commenting further on the body camera footage “until I reach a charging decision,” because doing so could run afoul of state bar association rules.
Khalil Ferebee, Mr. Brown’s son, embraced a woman in front of a memorial to his father in Elizabeth City this month.Credit…Amr Alfiky/The New York Times
The slaying of Mr. Brown came just a few days after a jury found a former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, guilty of murder in the case of George Floyd, an African-American man who spent minutes with his neck under Mr. Chauvin’s knee.
Sheriff Tommy Wooten II of Pasquotank County said that the three deputies who opened fire on Mr. Brown would remain on administrative leave pending the completion of the investigations into the episode.
The FB.I. is conducting a civil rights investigation. The State Bureau of Investigation is also investigating, and will present its report to Mr. Womble, who will decide whether to present the case to a grand jury.
Sheriff Wooten had asked the court to make the videos public in the spirit of transparency. So had a group of news organizations, including The New York Times. Judge Foster ruled that the media organizations did not have standing under state law to request the release of the video.
Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, a Democrat, has asked Mr. Womble to turn the case over to a special prosecutor, as have lawyers for the Brown family.
Khalil Ferebee, Mr. Brown’s son, spoke briefly at Tuesday’s news conference, his eyes shrouded by sunglasses. He said the more extensive video footage told a story similar to the one that he saw in the 20-second snippet days ago.
“What’s in the dark is going to come to the light,” he said.