Family reacts after viewing '20-second snippet' of bodycam from deadly Elizabeth City shooting

Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Family of Andrew Brown reacts to footage of deadly Elizabeth City shooting
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A North Carolina family and their attorneys are reacting with anger and frustration after viewing only a short bodycam video of the shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City.

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Attorneys for the family of Andrew Brown Jr. reacted with frustration Monday after saying family members were only allowed to see a 20-second clip from the exchange with deputies that left Brown dead.

Delays frustrated activists, attorneys and Brown's family.

The family originally expected to be allowed at 11:30 a.m. Monday to watch bodycam video from the incident that happened April 21 in Elizabeth City. However, delays pushed it back to at least 1:30 p.m. Other family members went inside to view the video about 3 p.m.

"My dad got executed trying to save his own life," Brown's son said after viewing the video.

Attorneys for the family said they arrived at 11:30 a.m. to find the doors to Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office locked. An email to the family's attorney informed them the sheriff's office was working to redact some of the video.

Family attorneys said they were promised by officials that they would be allowed to see the raw video but afterward said the family was allowed to see only 20 seconds even though there were at least eight different body camera angles available, plus dashcam videos.

Attorney Ben Crump accused the county attorney of pulling a bait-and-switch, promising the family they would see raw, extended footage but "at the last minute" decided to show them only a 20-second clip.

"They are trying to hide something," Crump said.

WATCH: Raw video of news conference (contains some profanity)

WARNING: CONTAINS SOME PROFANITY -- FULL NEWS CONFERENCE: Attorney, family hold a news conference in Elizabeth City after viewing a short clip of bodycam footage.

They also said the Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten wanted the family to view the full videos but the decisions were made by the county attorney.

Today we also allowed the family of Mr. Brown and his attorney to privately view the video," Wooten said. "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," Wooten added.

Lawyer Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said Brown had his hands on the steering wheel when deputies started shooting.

Then, trying to avoid being shot, he started to back away in his car, not in the direction of the deputies, she said.

"His car is riddled with bullets," she said. "There were shell casings before he even backed out."

The Pasquotank County Attorney R. Michael Cox released the following statement around noon:

"We're glad that state law allows us to provide a private viewing of the body camera footage to the family of Mr. Brown and after we received their request on Sunday evening, we began working immediately to make that happen as soon as possible. The law also allows us to blur some faces on the video and that process takes time Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. Section 132-1.4A, this may be done when necessary to protect an active internal investigation. As soon as these redactions are complete, we will allow the family to view this footage. We hope this occurs today, but the actual time will be driven by the completion of the redactions. We are also continuing to seek transparency within the law and continue our efforts to get a court order that would allow the video to be released to the public."

On Monday afternoon, Sheriff Wooten said his department is committed to transparency.

Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg explained the process in a video statement and said the sheriff's office would "comply with the judge's order" in regard to releasing full bodycam footage.

"Those people who claim the sheriff's office has the ability to release either don't know North Carolina law or they are trying to purposefully inflame a tragic situation," Fogg said.

Brown was shot dead while deputies served a search warrant in Elizabeth City last Wednesday. The search warrant said investigators wanted to search the home to prove that he sold and was in possession of "crack" cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. According to the warrant, detectives used an undercover informant to record audio and video of them purchasing "crack" cocaine and methamphetamine from Brown on numerous occasions.

Wooten said the State Bureau of Investigation and investigators from four outside sheriff's offices are interviewing witnesses and gathering more information.

Fogg said it is not appropriate to rely on just bodycam footage but to get all the facts before jumping to conclusions.

"We continue to ask for patience as we follow the important process to proceed," Fogg said.

WATCH: Brown's cousin, family attorneys in extended interview

EXTENDED INTERVIEW: ABC11's Tim Pulliam speaks with Andrew Brown Jr.'s first cousin Steven Sears Jr., and Brown family attorneys Chantel Lassiter and Harry Daniels.

Since the day of the shooting, questions have loomed, especially for the family.

Monday morning, Elizabeth City officials announced it had closed city offices and issued a local State of Emergency.

Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools also announced it would be fully remote for the week.

Pasquotank Co. Sheriff's Office released a joint statement promising to seek the release of the bodycam footage hopefully by Monday.

Sunday marked the fifth consecutive day that people took to the streets of Elizabeth City to express their pain and anguish and to demand justice for Andrew Brown.

"Say his name... Andrew Brown. Say his name, Andrew Brown." Demonstrators' cries could be felt all the way to the heart of the state where a vigil was held for the victims of recent deadly police shootings.

A grandmother who wrote in chalk on the sidewalk, "Stop Killing our Children," said she feels for the parents of those who have been killed in recent police shootings.

"How can you have a blatant disregard for life!" one protester shouted.

Christian Giliard from Elizabeth City told ABC11 how the shooting has impacted him and his family.

"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," Giliard said.

Authorities said a Pasquotank County deputy shot and killed the 42-year-old father of seven Wednesday morning while trying to serve a search warrant.

Family members said Brown was not armed but no one has been able to see the police bodycam footage yet.

Scanner traffic that day indicated Brown may have been shot from behind: "Advise EMS, we have one male, 42 years of age, gunshot wound to the back."

Andrea Rovenski lives in Brown's neighborhood and heard the gunfire.

"I started texting all the people I know. It was just crazy to be experiencing all of that in real-time," Rovenski said. "I'm out here to show support for my community. This is where I live. These are my people and they need me and I need them."

Sheriff Tommy Wooten said he will petition the courts to release the body camera video. It's unclear how long it will take that process to happen.

County Commission Chairman Lloyd Griffin released a statement regarding demonstrators' demands, saying, in part: "Calling for North Carolina law to be ignored is irresponsible. We ask our community to be patient."