Judge Denies Release Of Bodycam Footage Showing Andrew Brown Jr. Shooting
The judge ruled that video from multiple body cameras and one dashboard camera must be shown to Brown’s family within 10 days.
April 28, 2021 at 7:06 pm
Update (April 28, 2021): A judge has denied requests to release the body camera footage of the shooting of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man who was killed by North Carolina deputies during an attempted arrest on April 21.
Judge Jeffery Foster expressed that he came to his decision based on information in the videos that he thought could potentially harm the existing investigation. He also cited concerns for the safety of people seen in the clips, according to The Chicago Tribune. Foster mandated that the video remains out of public view for at least 30 days.“The release at this time would create a serious threat to the fair, impartial and orderly administration of justice,” Foster said.
The judge’s decision was announced shortly after District Attorney Andrew Womble said that Brown had hit law enforcement officers with his car as they tried to arrest him on drug-related warrants before opening fire.
Womble shared that he viewed the body camera footage and told the judge that he disagreed with attorneys for Brown’s family who contended that the man’s car was at a stand-still when the shooting started. The district attorney said the video depicts Brown’s car making contact with law enforcement on two occasions prior to shots being fired.
“As it backs up, it does make contact with law enforcement officers,” he said. “The next movement of the car is forward. It is in the direction of law enforcement and makes contact with law enforcement. It is then and only then that you hear shots.”
In his argument, Womble suggested that body camera video from the shooting should be withheld from the public for another month so state authorities can develop their investigation of the fatal shooting.Although Foster ultimately decided to delay the release of the videos, he ruled that video from multiple body cameras and one dashboard camera must be shown to Brown’s family within 10 days. He indicated that some sections of the video may be blurred or redacted, including conversations between officers. On Monday, the family was shown a 20-second portion of one body camera video.
After news of the fatal shooting spread, activists in the community called for a special prosecutor to take over the case from Womble. According to The Tribune, Foster said he aims to issue a decision on Wednesday after a brief recess.Earlier this week, Brown’s family released an independent autopsy showing he was shot five times, including once in the back of the head, as Blavity previously reported.
Original (April 27, 2021): According to an independent autopsy initiated by the family of Andrew Brown Jr., the 42-year-old Black man was shot five times, including once in the back of the head.
"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," family lawyer Wayne Kendall said during a press conference, NBC News reported.
The report also revealed that he was shot in the shoulder, upper right arm and near his right elbow.
After the autopsy revealed he was killed by a bullet to the back of his head, the FBI said it would be conducting a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting.
As Blavity previously reported, the North Carolina man was shot on Wednesday by deputies in Elizabeth City while being compliant with officers’ demands with his hands on the steering wheel.
Rest in Peace to Andrew Brown.— Mayor Colin Byrd (@MayorByrd) April 26, 2021
Elizabeth City, North Carolina. pic.twitter.com/Zmn8mgtHzX
After reviewing body camera footage of the fatal police shooting, attorneys for Brown’s family reinforced the notion that the encounter was “an execution.”
“They’re shooting and saying ‘Let me see your hands’ at the same time,” family attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said, according to NBC 4. “Let’s be clear. This was an execution.”
The family was only able to view a clip of the footage that shows police shooting Brown, where Cherry-Lassiter says he was trying to “save his own life.”
"What the 20 seconds shows is that Andrew Brown is not a threat to officers," Cherry-Lassiter told CNN. "As he was being shot at, Andrew was trying to back away from the officers and save his life, save his own life."
City Manager Montré Freeman said he was "flabbergasted" that the family was not able to see the full video of the incident.
"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," he said.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Brent Hall ruled that the fatal shot which penetrated Brown’s skull and brain was shot from an “intermediate” range. As stated in Hall’s report, the bullet had a trajectory of “bottom to top, left to right, and back to front."
While the footage shows the encounter was not long-standing, the family expressed their woes in only being shown a small portion of the shooting.
“We got a little bit of evidence but that wasn’t enough for us, “Brown’s son Khalil Ferebee told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “We’re heartbroken.”
"Those (four) gunshots to the arm, that weren't enough? That weren't enough?" Ferebee said. "It's obvious he was trying to get away. It's obvious and they're going to shoot him in the back of the head? That s--- not right. That's not right at all, man."