Attorneys representing the family of a Black man recently killed by deputies in North Carolina say body camera footage confirms that he died after being shot in the back of his head.
The deputies said in a statement that Andrew Brown Jr., who was killed last Wednesday, did not appear to be a threat to officers as he backed his vehicle out of his driveway and tried to drive away from deputies who had an arrest warrant.
His death led to nightly protests as part of the Black Lives Matter movement in the town of Elizabeth City. The video in question has only been viewed by authorities and Brown’s family so far.
“There was no time in the 20 seconds that we saw where he was threatening the officers in any kind of way,” the attorneys said in a statement.
Asked whether Brown was shot in the back, attorney Harry Daniels said, “Yes, back of the head.”
Eyewitness accounts as well as emergency scanner traffic had previously confirmed the fact that Brown was shot from behind as he tried to run away from the deputies.
“My dad got executed just by trying to save his own life,” said Brown’s adult son Khalil Ferebee.
The attorneys said they lost count of the number of gunshots fired by the deputies who held rifles and handguns. The video shows that at least eight law enforcement officers in full gear were present at the scene.
“They’re shooting and saying ‘Let me see your hands’ at the same time,” said one of the attorneys. “Let’s be clear. This was an execution.”
The family’s lawyers also criticized authorities for sharing only 20 seconds of video from a single body camera.
“They’re trying to hide something,” attorney Benjamin Crump said.
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II has said multiple deputies fired shots and seven deputies are on leave pending a probe.
The sheriff said Monday that the video will be released as soon as a judge authorizes it. He asked for patience while the State Bureau of Investigation probes the case.
“This tragic incident was quick and over in less than 30 seconds, and body cameras are shaky and sometimes hard to decipher. They only tell part of the story,” he said.
Brown’s search warrant released Monday showed that Brown was selling cocaine and methamphetamine to an informant.
The attorneys said by releasing the warrant the authorities were trying to divert attention from the execution style police killing.
In March, narcotics officers used their informant to conduct controlled purchases of methamphetamine and cocaine from Brown and two separate drug transactions were recorded both audio and video.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth City officials declared a state of emergency Monday amid concerns about violent protest in case of a possible video release. Protests have generally been peaceful since the shooting in the eastern North Carolina town of about 18,000.