Andrew Brown Jr.’s family respond to viewing extended bodycam footage
"At no point did we see Mr. Brown pose a threat to the law enforcement that was there. It was absolutely and unequivocally unjustified," a lawyer for the family said.
Andrew Brown’s Jr. family viewed more footage of the bodycam footage that showed him being shot multiple times by North Carolina police officers.
The family was limited to only viewing 20 minutes of the nearly two-hour recording of before and after Brown’s shooting death. The Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office complied with a court order issued by North Carolina Superior Court Judge Jeff Foster.
The faces of the deputies were ordered blurred during the viewing “to prevent identification pending the completion of any internal or criminal investigation.”
Brown’s family and their attorneys viewed five deputy body camera and one dash video on Tuesday.
Chance Lynch, one of the lawyers representing the family of Andrew Brown Jr., said he didn’t pose a threat to police.
“At no point did we see Mr. Brown pose a threat to the law enforcement that was there. It was absolutely and unequivocally unjustified,” Lynch said at a press conference Tuesday after the family viewed the extended bodycam footage.
Civil rights attorney Bakari Sellers, who is also representing the family, declared that Brown’s death was an “unjustified killing” at a press conference following the family viewing.
Sellers also called into question the impartiality of District Attorney Andrew Womble who has a “well-defined” relationship with the sheriff’s office. Sellers wanted Womble to recuse himself, otherwise “We do not believe we will have a fair set of eyes looking at this going forward.”
Sellers did note that because of Brown’s death, “Right now, the North Carolina State Legislature is examining changes to the body camera law as we speak, in a bipartisan effort. And that wouldn’t happen but for Andrew Brown.”
Khalil Ferebee, Brown’s son, was resolute that “What’s done in the dark will come to light. We will get justice.”
The family previously viewed 20 seconds of the incident last month, per another ruling by Foster. It showed Brown with his hands on the steering wheel when some of the officers discharged their service weapons.
Brown’s family being able to view more of the footage comes weeks after protests for police accountability and transparency. Foster denied a petition on April 28 from media outlets to release the footage to the public citing the safety of the officers involved and the potential to impact a trial.
Foster’s decision came under further scrutiny after it was recently revealed that he harbored pro-police views that were shared on his now-deleted Facebook page. He also declared in 2013 that George Zimmerman should not have been charged with the death of Trayvon Martin.
“He should have never been charged,” Foster wrote about Zimmerman the day after he was acquitted. “The jury did the right thing. Fox News got it right again.”
Brown was fatally shot and killed in Elizabeth City, N.C. on April 21 while behind the wheel of his car after 10 officers attempted to serve him a warrant on drug-related charges. An independent autopsy requested by Brown’s family revealed that he’d been shot five times, including a bullet to the back of his head.
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten identified Investigator Daniel Meads, Deputy Robert Morgan, and Cpl. Aaron Lewellyn as the officers who shot Brown. They are on administrative leave.
However, Wooten cleared Lt. Steven Judd, Sgt. Michael Swindell, Sgt. Kenneth Bishop and Sgt. Joel Lunford to return to duty after an internal investigation concluded they did not fire at Brown Jr. during the incident.
Services for Brown were held on May 3. Rev. Al Sharpton gave the eulogy and drew applause when he declared, “I know a con game when I see it. Release the whole tape and let the folks see what happened to Andrew Brown.”
Sharpton challenged authorities to release the full bodycam footage.
“You don’t need time to get a tape out. Put it out! Let the world see what there is to see. If you’ve got nothing to hide, then what are you hiding?” he said.
The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into Brown’s death.
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