Andrew Brown Jr. was “ambushed” in his Elizabeth City driveway with his hands on the wheel of his car, dying in a hail of bullets without threatening the sheriff’s deputies who fired them, his attorney said Tuesday after viewing additional body camera footage.
Attorney Chance Lynch watched 20 minutes of footage with Brown family members. He disputed the district attorney’s prior account of Brown striking deputies with his vehicle. Instead, Brown backed up and turned away for them as deputies “opened up,” Lynch said.
“There were so many shots that we had difficulty in counting the number,” Lynch said.
Brown’s family and lawyers arrived at the Pasquotank County sheriff’s office Tuesday to view the longer but still heavily redacted video of his death. Until Tuesday, family members had only seen about 20 seconds of body camera footage.
The footage from body cameras included audio, and Lynch said deputies were yelling so loud Brown could not have understood them.
“You could see both hands,” Lynch said of Brown. “We could clearly see both hands.”
Lynch emphasized that Brown’s car did not move until the first shot was fired.
‘Release the tape! The whole tape!’
The Rev. William Barber II, speaking outside the sheriff’s office on Tuesday, said the family should be able to see unredacted footage.
“This is cruel and unusual punishment,” Barber said. “What are they hiding? What do they have to hide? To kill a young man, driving away, with a back shot and then to hide the tape.”
The Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, president of the NC NAACP, called Pasquotank County deputies “lawless enforcement” and said 16 minutes are “another snippet.”
After the family had spent about an hour inside, a chant broke out among several dozen in the parking lot: “Release the tape! The whole tape! The real tape!”
Brown, 42, died of a gunshot wound to the head on April 21 as deputies arrived at his home to serve search and arrest warrants based on a yearlong drug investigation.
Neighbors reported seeing deputies open fire on Brown’s car as he fled, shooting out the back window, and a family commissioned autopsy found a “kill shot” to the back of his head, according to attorney Ben Crump.
The family has since sought access to all deputies’ body-cam footage and dashboard camera video.
A Superior Court judge denied media requests for the release, and the sheriff’s office also sought permission to show video publicly. State law permits this only with a judge’s ruling, which the county commissioners have sought to change.
Some bipartisan support for wider access rules is also rising in the General Assembly.