ELIZABETH CITY, NC – The protests continued Thursday hours after Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten released the names of seven MPs involved in the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. on April 21.
All seven were placed on administrative leave after the shooting, but a review of body camera images shows four of the MPs never fired a weapon, Wooten said in the statement. These deputies were reinstated in active service.
“A further investigation is needed on the three deputies who fired their weapons and they will remain on administrative leave pending the completion of the internal investigation and / or the criminal investigation carried out by the National Bureau of Investigations”, Wooten said in the press release.
Andrew Brown Jr. has been shot five times – including one in the back of the head, showed a family-backed autopsy – as MPs served search and arrest warrants at Brown’s Elizabeth City home.
The seven MPs identified by Wooten:
- Investigator Daniel Meads (on administrative leave)
- Deputy Sheriff II Robert Morgan (on administrative leave)
- Cpl. Aaron Lewellyn (on administrative leave)
- Lieutenant Steven Judd (active duty)
- Sgt. Michael Swindell (active duty)
- Sgt. Kenneth Bishop (active duty)
- Sgt. Joel Lunsford (active duty)
Here’s what we know on Thursday:
“ Free the bands, ” chant the protesters
The Elizabeth City Police Department said Thursday it issued a “violation warning” as a group of about 50 people gathered after the city’s curfew. It marked the ninth night of peaceful protests in the city.
Elizabeth City Councilor Gabriel Adkins earlier called on protesters to respect the city’s 8pm curfew: “If you choose to stay outside, stay off the road.” He said he hoped the city could lift this curfew as early as Friday.
While police previously targeted journalists to enforce the curfew after the curfew, the city on Thursday clarified that working journalists would not be subject to the curfew, according to a letter from William H. Morgan, Jr. ., the attorney for Elizabeth City.
Among the songs heard in the streets Thursday evening: “Free the bands – all bands“and” You cannot hide, you have committed homicide. “
Ikisha Brothers said it was important for her to be a part of the protest. She went to school with Brown and said it was heartbreaking to see how the last week turned out.
More than anything, Brothers said she wanted the tapes to be released for the family.
Before dusk Thursday, a group of protesters pulled up a few yards from where Brown was shot. They kept a moment of silence interrupted only by the roar of truck engines as supporters followed.
The silence ended when a voice in the crowd shouted, “Say her name.”
When will a judge reconsider whether to post a bodycam video?
Brown’s family will be allowed to see more body camera footage of his death within 10 days, a judge ruled after deciding not to post the videos.
Judge Jeff Foster said on Wednesday he would reconsider arguments over the disclosure of the footage once a State Investigation Bureau investigation is completed and the district attorney can make a decision on the potential charges.
Foster’s decision not to release the video prompted condemnation from attorneys representing Brown’s family. Lawyers for a coalition of media organizations that demanded the release said they would consider an appeal after reading Foster’s full written order.
A funeral for Brown is scheduled for Monday. Civil Rights Leader Reverend Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy.
Foster said he would reconsider the possibility of releasing the images within 30 to 45 days. District Attorney Andrew Womble said he believed the State Bureau of Investigation, which is overseeing an independent investigation into the shooting, would be able to complete its work and that he could make any decision to put in potential charge within this timeframe.
Foster said he was not releasing the footage out of caution, in order to avoid any potential threat to a fair and impartial trial if charges were to be laid. He said the release could also threaten the safety of people seen in the footage.
Why so few details about Brown’s death? Police fuel outrage over Andrew Brown Jr. death by withholding information, experts say
A Pasquotank County attorney has requested that the footage be released to Brown’s family on behalf of the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office. Wooten said he was disappointed the video would not be released immediately, but would respect the judge’s ruling.
“While we are unable to show the public what has happened at this time, independent investigators are working to complete their investigation,” Wooten said. “As soon as all the important facts are communicated to me, I will act quickly to ensure accountability and I will be as transparent as possible with the public.”
Foster said Brown’s family should be allowed to view the footage within 10 days, however. The faces and ID badges of the MPs involved will be blurred, and some sections may be cut off.
A coalition of news media organizations, including Gannett, the parent company of USA TODAY, also called for the footage to be released.
Foster ruled that the media were not qualified for the video to be shown to them.
“If the media do not have standing to ask the court to publish a video of the police, neither do the general public. We believe it is legally incorrect,” said Mike Tadych. and Amanda Martin, lawyers representing the coalition, in a statement. . “We will review the judge’s written order when we receive it and decide at that time how best to appeal immediately.”
Brown Family Attorney & District Attorney Offer Different Bodycam Accounts
On Monday, Brown’s family viewed a partial and edited clip of the body camera video of the shot.
After viewing the video with the family, lawyer Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said she was showing Brown with her hands on the wheel of her car and not a threat to MPs.
“They came running over to his firing vehicle,” Cherry-Lassiter said. “He finally decides to try to escape and he backs up, not going towards the officers at all.”
Womble called Cherry-Lassiter’s account “patently false.”
The judge decides not to release bodycam:The Bodycam video will not be released on the fatal Andrew Brown Jr. Shoot at this time; family is allowed to see more footage, judge rules
“As he retreats, he makes contact with law enforcement,” Womble said. The car stops again, according to Womble, and “the car’s next movement is forward. It’s in the direction of law enforcement and making contact with law enforcement. That is. then and only then can you hear gunshots. “
Cherry-Lassiter maintained his remarks after the hearing.
Harry Daniels, another lawyer for Brown’s family, said the gap shows why the video should be public.
In a statement after Foster’s decision not to release the footage, lawyers for the family said they were disappointed.
“In this modern civil rights crisis where we see black people being killed by police everywhere we look, video evidence is the key to discerning the truth and securing well-deserved justice for victims of senseless murders,” the lawyers said. .
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper called a special prosecutor to deal with the case and any decision on potential criminal charges, and the FBI field office in Charlotte said he had opened a civil rights investigation on Brown’s death.
Contributor: Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY; The Associated Press