NC city declares state of emergency over Andrew Brown Jr. video

"Let's be clear. This was an execution," Attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said of Brown's death.

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A state of emergency has been issued in Elizabeth City, NC in preparation for civil unrest upon the release of video footage of the shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr.

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According to NPR, the city has also closed all of its government offices for the day. Pasquotank County, N.C. Sheriff Tommy Wooten II asked his office to approve the video’s release and Brown’s family was due to view the video Monday morning. However, there were delays. Family attorneys Ben Crump, Harry Daniels, and Bakari Sellers confirmed the delay NPR reported authorities needed more time to blur images of some people’s faces and redact the footage.

Elizabeth City Mayor Bettie Parker declared the emergency in advance.

“City officials realize there may potentially be a period of civil unrest within the City following the public release of that footage,” she said according to NPR.

Andrew Brown Jr.
Glenda Brown Thomas displays a photo of her nephew, Andrew Brown Jr., on her cell phone at her home in Elizabeth City, N.C., on Thursday, April 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)

“Sheriff Wooten, you don’t need to say no more — just show the video,” said Crump during a press conference. He accused the officers of a double standard saying law enforcement “released a warrant saying all kinds of things about Andrew Brown, but they want to redact the face of the police officers that killed Andrew Brown.”

Pasquotank County Attorney R. Michael Cox said his office worked to attempt to set up a private viewing of the video footage for the family “immediately” once the request was issued Sunday. He continued by saying “the law also allows us to blur some faces on the video and that process takes time,” according to NPR.

Attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter stated at a press conference on Monday afternoon that the family was only allowed to watch a 20- second snippet of the body cam.

“Let’s be clear. This was an execution,” Cherry-Lassiter said outside the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Department.

Cherry-Lassiter added Brown wasn’t a threat to police as they approached his car.

“So they were shooting at him with his hands on the steering wheel in the driveway,” she said.

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theGrio reported demonstrations and protests in Elizabeth City, North Carolina have continued for nearly a week as protesters claim that officers showed a “blatant disregard” for Brown’s life in shooting him as he drove away. 

One protester, Christian Gillard, told ABC11 this weekend: “Emotionally, physically, mentally, everything. It’s impacted me every way. My kids are scared. They fear for me every time I go to work. I should never have to feel like that.”

Andrew Brown Jr. Crowd
People gather outside the municipal building after at least one Pasquotank County Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed Andrew Brown Jr. (Credit: AP)

Andrew Brown Jr. was shot and killed April 21 when authorities attempted to serve a search warrant.

“The police didn’t have to shoot my baby,” said Martha McCullen, an aunt of Brown who said she raised him after his parents died. McCullen stood on the stoop of Brown’s rental home, her eyes moist with emotion.

Brown’s grandmother, Lydia Brown, and his aunt Clarissa Brown Gibson told The Associated Press that they learned about his death through a TV news report. Both said they want the shooting thoroughly investigated. Wooten said the deputy shot Brown about 8:30 a.m. The deputy was wearing an active body camera at the time of the shooting, said the sheriff, who declined to identify the officer or say how many shots he fired, citing a pending review by the State Bureau of Investigation. Wooten also did not say what the warrant was for.

Elizabeth City is located near where the Pasquotank River empties into the Albemarle Sound. It is home to a U.S. Coast Guard air station, Elizabeth City State University and a medical center, all of which support numerous jobs. The city’s population is more than 50% Black and about 40% white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Nearly 23% of residents live in poverty.

This article contains additional reporting from theGrio’s Associated Press.

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