North Carolina District Attorney Andrew Womble said that the deputy-involved shooting of Andrew Brown Jr., which prompted Black Lives Matter demonstrations, was justified and said the officers will not face any charges.
“After reviewing the investigation conducted by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Mr. Brown’s death while tragic, was justified because Mr. Brown’s actions caused three deputies with the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office to reasonably believe it was necessary to use deadly force to protect themselves and others,” Womble, the elected DA for North Carolina’s Judicial District 1, said at a televised news conference on Tuesday.
Brown, 42, was fatally shot by Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies in Elizabeth City on April 21 as they were serving him with several arrests and search warrants on felony drug charges on April 21. His death came a day after a jury in Minneapolis found former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin guilty on murder charges in connection to the death of George Floyd last year, which prompted nationwide riots, violence, and protests for months.
Womble previously said that Brown’s car made contact with law enforcement officers twice before the deputies opened fire.
Brown’s attorneys and his family members, however, have disputed Womble’s arguments, telling media outlets that Brown was not a threat after they watched body camera and dash camera videos that were shown to them. Those videos have not been released to the public after Judge Jeffrey Foster blocked the release of the footage, except to Brown’s family, pending the result of an investigation.
“It was absolutely, unequivocally unjustified,” family lawyer Chance Lynch told news outlets last week, adding: “Our legal team is more committed now to pursue justice … because what we saw today was unconstitutional and it was unjustifiable.” Lynch also alleged that the video showed deputies shooting at Brown first, prompting him to move his vehicle.
After Brown’s death, Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrated for several days, leading the mayor of Elizabeth City to declare an emergency in late April due to “civil unrest” to ensure residents’ safety.
Meanwhile, four North Carolina deputies who were initially placed on administrative leave in the aftermath of the incident were permitted to return to duty after footage showed they didn’t fire their guns, said Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten in late April.
“After reviewing the preliminary conclusions of the independent investigators conducting the internal review, and after carefully examining the body camera footage of the incident with my own staff, it’s obvious that four of the deputies never fired their weapons and deserve to be reinstated to active duty,” Wooten said in a statement.
The FBI has also said it is investigating the shooting to determine if Brown’s civil rights were violated.
The Epoch Times has contacted the attorneys for Brown’s family for comment.