‘What we saw was a massacre by a firing squad,’ – family of police shooting victim Andrew Brown Jr, after 18 more minutes of bodycam footage contradicts police account that he drove into officers who shot him dead
Lawyers for the victim of police fatal shooting describing his death as a ‘massacre by a firing squad’, call for the ‘arrest, conviction, and a long prison sentence’ for the officers involved
‘What we saw was a massacre by a firing squad’ they said, after bodycam footage showed that Andrew Brown Jr. did not drive into the deputies who shot him dead
Attorneys for his family made the satement after they were allowed to watch 18 more minutes of the two-hour video
The footage contradicts statements the local District Attorney Andrew Womble, made in court that deputies didn’t start firing until after Andrew Brown’s vehicle struck them twice, Brown family lawyers said
Attorney Chance Lynch said Tuesday the footage shows Brown was sitting in his stationary car with his hands on the wheel when officers started shooting at him
Brown actually did ‘the opposite’ of driving at the officers, reversing and turning his car to go ‘the opposite direction’ after the cops opened fire, Lynch said
Andrew Brown Jr, 42, was shot dead in his driveway on April 21, by Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies executing drug-related warrants, according to law enforcement reports
The father-of-10 was inside his car outside his house in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, when the officers arrived
Brown who is Black, was unarmed and there has been no report of drugs found in Brown’s car or home
Prior to Tuesday’s viewing, they had seen just a 20-second clip of the shooting in what amounts to two hours of bodycam footage
Calls have been mounting for authorities to release entire bodycam footage
Viewing of a fuller version Bodycam video shows Andrew Brown Jr. did not drive into the deputies who shot him dead, according to the attorneys for the black man’s family, after a judge allowed them to watch more footage of his killing at the hands of law enforcement.
Chance Lynch, a lawyer who viewed the footage in private with Brown’s family Tuesday, said it shows Brown was sitting in his stationary car with his hands on the wheel when officers ‘ambushed’ him and opened fire.
He said the 42-year-old black man’s hands were ‘visible at all times’ and he at no point posed a threat to law enforcement or made contact with them.
Brown’s car was stationary until deputies started shooting at him, at which point he did ‘the opposite’ of driving at the officers, putting his car in reverse to back away from the gunfire, Lynch said.
Lynch called for ‘a long prison sentence’ for the deputies responsible, as he described the black man’s death as a ‘massacre by a firing squad.’
‘What we saw was a massacre by a firing squad. We want justice. We want arrest, conviction, and a long prison sentence,’ said Lynch in a press conference after the viewing.
Andrew Brown Jr., a 42-year-old black man, was shot multiple times and killed on the morning of April 21 by Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies.
The father-of-10 was inside his car outside his house in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, when the officers were serving him drug-related search and arrest warrants. Ther has been no report of actual drug find either in the vctim’s car or his home.
Brown’s family have repeatedly described his death as an ‘execution’, saying he had his hands on the steering wheel of the car and was shot in the back of the head. His death came just one day after Derek Chauvin was found guilty of George Floyd’s murder.
The calls from the public and county officials alike, have been mounting for authorities to release all the bodycam footage of the incident. To date, no footage has been released to the public or the media.
Brown’s family and attorney had previously been shown just a 20-second clip from one deputy’s body camera.
On Tuesday, they were finally allowed to view around 18 minutes of the roughly two hours worth of bodycam and dashcam footage of the incident. The footage was from one dashcam and five bodycam videos.
They were not allowed to make copies or recordings of it and the footage was heavily redacted, with the faces and name tags of the deputies involved blurred out.
The family’s lawyers say the footage contradicts statements made by the local district attorney, in court that deputies didn’t start firing until after Brown’s vehicle struck them twice.
Lynch’s description matches what another family attorney said after seeing the shorter 20-second clip, and the
Pasquotank County Sheriff, Tommy Wooten II, has previously confirmed that law enforcement officers were not injured in the incident.
After the viewing Tuesday, Lynch told reporters: ‘We did not see any actions on Mr. Brown’s part where he made contact with them [deputies] or tried to go in their direction’.
‘In fact, he did just the opposite. While there was a group of law enforcement that were in front of him, he went the opposite direction,’ Lynch told reporters
Lynch, who slammed Brown’s death as ‘absolutely, unequivocally, unjustified,’ said the bodycam footage also shows deputies found no weapons on Brown as they searched his vehicle after pulling the fatally injured black man from the car and lying him face down.
During a court hearing last month over the sheriff’s request to release the video, District Attorney Andrew Womble said Brown’s car was backing up when it first ‘made contact’ with law enforcement officers, then came to a stop before moving again.
‘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,’ Womble said.
Lynch hit out at Womble over his version of events questioning ‘what footage’ the DA saw and telling him they weren’t born ‘last night.’
‘I’m not sure what footage the district attorney has seen. I can only go off what he said and what he has insinuated,’ he said.
‘We have a saying where I’m from and that saying is ‘I was born at night but I not last last night’.’
Brown’s family are calling for Womble to be removed from the case citing a conflict of interest between the prosecutor and the sheriff’s office, saying he had worked ‘directly’ with the deputies involved for many years.
Under state law, only Womble has the power to decide if he should step aside.
Lynch described the footage he had seen as showing Brown being ‘ambushed’ and said the father-of-10 appeared to be ‘surprised’ and possibly on his cellphone at the time.
‘He appears to be surprised and also appears to be on his phone,’ he said.
‘At all times his hands were visible. At all time’s you can see he was not a threat.’
He said at least one shot was fired before Brown moved his car and that he actually put his car in reverse – away from the direction of officers.
‘There was a shot fired. When the shot was fired he put the car in reverse putting several feet if not yards away from the police who were there,’ he said.
Lynch said Brown then turned his wheel to the left away from the officers in front of his car and that no officers were ever seen behind the reversing car.
‘While there was a group of law enforcement in front of him, he went in the opposite direction,’ he said.
‘He turned his wheel to the left to turn it away from the law enforcement officers.
‘At no point did we see any of the police officers behind his vehicle. At no point did we ever see Mr. Brown make contact with law enforcement.’
Instead, he said deputies may have reached out and touched the car as Brown tried to drive away, but that he didn’t initiate the contact.
Brown the footage viewers said, went in the opposite direction of a group of officers in front of his vehicle, and that a second shot was fired as he turned to the left to go across his yard, Lynch said.
There were ‘so many shots’ fired at Brown’s car that they [family attorneys], struggled to determine the exact number.
After a final shot was fired, Lynch said, Brown lost control of his car which slalomed across the street crashing into a tree.
There were at least six bullet holes on the side of the vehicle, the windows were shattered, at least one bullet hole in the front windshield and around six in the back windshield.
The deputies laid Brown’s body face-first flat on the ground, Lynch said.
He had a bullet hole in the back of his head.
Brown’s son Jha’rod Ferebee told reporters his father ‘did not deserve to die at all.’
‘He did not deserve to get killed in any way, shape or form. He did not pose any threat at all,’ he said.
Attorney Bakari Sellers called for the ‘arrest, prosecution, conviction and a long prison sentence’ to be brought against the deputies involved in Brown’s death, calling on prosecutors to ‘throw away the key.’
The family renewed their calls for the full release of all footage to the public.
Under North Carolina law, bodycam footage is not a public record and cannot be released without a court order.
At a court hearing on April 27, Judge Jeffery Foster denied a media petition to release the footage publicly for at least 30 days, on the grouds that it might impede the ongoing investigation.
He would consider releasing it after this date if the investigation has been completed, Judge Foster said
A decision is therefore expected on whether the footage will be publicly released around May 27.
The Pasquotank County Sheriff, Tommy Wooten, has also called for the full footage to be publicly released and North Carolina’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, urged for its swift release.
‘It was my hope that we will be able to release the video publicly so everyone could see for themselves what happened,’ Wooten said Tuesday after the family viewed the limited footage.
Sheriff Wooten and county leaders are calling for the state laws to be changed so that unredacted body camera footage can be released to families within five business days of a police incident that results in death or serious injury.
While denying the public release of the footage, Foster had ordered that around 20 minutes of the two hours worth of footage would be disclosed to the family within 10 days of the April 27 court hearing.
But the family were left with a further wait after the judge then took nine days to issue the written ruling from the April 27 court hearing.
Foster finally handed the ruling down on May 6, meaning the 10-day time limit started from then.
He approved the disclosure of video one in its entirety (3 minutes and 1 second).
He has also approved 1 minute 40 seconds from the almost 35 minute-long video two, 4 minutes 50 from the 32 minute long video three, 4 minutes 30 seconds of the 17 minute long video four and 4 minutes 40 of the 30 minute long video five.
All footage approved for release comes from the beginning of each respective recording.
Ten deputies were on the scene of Brown’s death but just five had their body cameras activated.
After viewing the 20-second clip from one deputy’s body camera, an attorney for Brown’s family said it showed an ‘execution’.
Attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said it shows deputies shot Brown as he sat with his hands on the steering wheel of his BMW.
An independent autopsy commissioned by his family said Brown was shot five times, including once in the back of the head. The state autopsy is yet to be released.
A copy of Brown’s death certificate says he died from a gunshot wound to the head.
The delay in releasing the footage has sparked outrage across North Carolina, with protesters taking to the streets since his death demanding transparency over the black man’s death.
While law enforcement have released few details about Brown’s death, police instead released court documents about the search warrant that brought them to Brown that day describing him as a drug dealer.
It’s a move that sparked more outrage with the family’s attorney Ben Crump accusing authorities of protecting the officers while they ‘assassinate the character’ of Brown.
The FBI has launched a civil rights probe into the shooting, while state agents are conducting a separate investigation.
Ten Deputies from the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office were present at the shooting on April 21.
County Sheriff’s office Investigator Daniel Meads, Deputy Robert Morgan and Cpl. Arron Lewellyn have been identified as the officers who shot at Brown. Their identities were finally released in late April and they remain on administrative leave.
Sheriff Wooten announced that four other deputies, Lt. Steven Judd, Sgts Michael Swindell, Kenneth Bishop and Joel Lunsford, were cleared to return to active duty after the investigation revealed they did not fire their guns.
All seven had initially been placed on administrative leave after Brown’s death.
Two of the officers, Deputy Sheriff William Harris and Lt. Christopher Terry, resigned in the aftermath, while Deputy James Flowers retired.
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