ELIZABETH CITY, NC – The family of a black man shot dead by sheriff’s deputies will be allowed to see more body camera footage of his death within 10 days, a judge ruled after deciding not to publish the videos.
Judge Jeff Foster said on Wednesday he would reconsider arguments over whether to release the footage once an investigation by the state investigative office is completed and the district attorney can make a decision on any potential accusation.
Andrew Brown Jr. was shot five times – including one in the back of the head, showed a family-backed autopsy – as deputies from the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office served search and arrest warrants at Brown’s home in Elizabeth City on April 21.
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, where Civil Rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy.
Here’s what we know on Thursday:
When will a judge reconsider whether to post a bodycam video?
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 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. Sheriff Tommy Wooten said he was disappointed the video would not be released immediately, but would respect the judge’s ruling.
“Although we are unable to show the public what has happened at this time, independent investigators are working to complete their investigation. As soon as all of the material facts are communicated to me, I will act quickly to ensure accountability and I’ll be as transparent as possible with the public, ”Wooten said.
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 the comments 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.
Protests defy curfew; the media said they were not exempt
Elizabeth City was under an 8 p.m. curfew on Wednesday night as protesters gathered for an eighth night to demand justice and accountability.
Protesters held signs and chanted as they marched and gathered near the public security building just after 8 p.m.
“Our goal when we take to the streets is to disrupt them every day to let them know that we are ultimately seeking justice for Andrew Brown and then looking for all the other murders that have taken place across the United States. We are against all the murders that have taken place, ”said Kirk Rivers, one of the protest organizers and brother of Keith Rivers, president of the local NAACP.
Tiffani Beasley, 33, of Elizabeth City, said she knew Brown through her boyfriend.
“He was fun. He loved R&B music. He took care of his kids the best he could. He was just cool,” Beasley said. “She was a very good person.”
The Elizabeth City Police Department said in Facebook posts after 10:30 p.m. that protesters had been given warnings to disperse and that arrests were underway.
Elizabeth City police, equipped with riot gear and shields, also threatened to arrest reporters covering the protest.
Police ordered the media to leave shortly after 11 p.m. on the second night of the city’s curfew and, with journalists outnumbering protesters, targeted journalists to enforce them.
Thursday’s media ban came after reporters from USA TODAY and other reporters in North Carolina were assured police would respect a media exemption for the curfew, as has been the practice. common in cities across the country.
Pasquotank County Manager Sparty Hammett told a media lawyer on Wednesday: “The First Amendment protects the right of the media to do their job. The county will not try to stop the media from doing their job.”
A spokesperson for the Elizabeth City Police Department could not be reached immediately Thursday morning.
Contributor: Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY; The Associated Press