North Carolina police promise transparency in Andrew Brown Jr. shooting, but no bodycam video yet
Two days after Andrew Brown Jr. was fatally shot by deputies in North Carolina, local law enforcement officials continue to promise transparency in their investigation. But the process to make public the most critical piece of evidence — body camera footage of the encounter in which deputies shot the Black man while serving an arrest warrant — has become a source of contention and confusion.
Protesters and politicians have pressured the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office to release footage from its deputies’ bodycams. Sheriff Tommy Wooten has said only a judge can release the footage. Wooten, surrounded by community leaders on Friday, repeatedly promised transparency and accountability. In North Carolina, a judge must generally sign off on release of bodycam footage. Judges “have issued such orders relatively freely,” according to University of North Carolina law professor Jeffrey B. Welty.
Media organizations, as well as Brown’s family, have announced their intentions to petition a judge to release the footage. “It’s very cumbersome,” William H. Morgan, Elizabeth City’s attorney, said of the state’s statutes on the situation. Morgan addressed city council Friday as they approved a petition asking three local law enforcement offices directly to release the footage. “From a purely legal point of view, I don’t feel good about our prospects,” Morgan said.
Brown was fatally shot in Elizabeth City on Wednesday morning. Witness accounts and scanner traffic recordings indicate he was shot in the back while fleeing in his a vehicle. Seven North Carolina deputies have been placed on leave, Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Aaron Wallio confirmed to the Associated Press in an email Friday. Wallio’s email also said that another three deputies have recently resigned, but he later clarified that the resignations were unrelated to the shooting. He said the department has about 55 total sworn deputies.