A North Carolina judge ruled on April 28 against the immediate public release of body camera footage in the officer-involved shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr.
Brown’s family attorneys, Black Lives Matter activists, and a coalition of media outlets have demanded the release of five body camera videos that purport to show deputies fatally shooting Brown while he was behind the wheel of his vehicle last week.
Judge Jeffrey Foster said that after hearing lawyers’ arguments from county officials and media outlets that sought the release of the footage, the videos contain material “of a highly sensitive and personal nature” and the release would “create a serious threat to the fair, impartial, and orderly administration of justice.”
Foster ruled that Brown’s family will be allowed to see all of the videos, but they won’t be released to the public for at least 30 days, and no longer than 45 days. Brown’s son Khalil Ferebee, his immediate family, and a licensed North Carolina lawyer will be allowed to see all the videos—but the judge said they need to be redacted to hide officers’ identities.
“While the bodycam footage only shows one perspective for a limited period of time, it might give the public some ability to understand what happened that day,” Mike Cox, attorney for Pasquotank County, told the judge. Cox said he favors the release of the video to the media and Brown’s family, adding that it won’t impede investigations by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.
Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble argued against releasing the footage, saying that the release would hinder a fair trial, risk deputies’ safety, and affect investigations. The video, he said, should be released as evidence if and when there is a trial.
H.P. Williams, an attorney on behalf of unnamed clients, said the footage shouldn’t be released but said he wouldn’t oppose releasing the video to the family as long as officers’ faces are redacted so they can’t be identified.
“The officers are very distraught over what happened. They feel for the family of Andrew Brown,” Williams told the judge. “But, as Mr. Womble described to you, we believe that the shooting was justified.”
The family of Brown and their attorneys said they viewed the footage earlier this week. In a statement to The Epoch Times on April 27, attorney Ben Crump said that “the video leaked earlier today shows what we already suspected: Andrew Brown Jr. was brought down by an inflamed modern-day lynch mob.”
“The footage shows an eerie resemblance to what we saw in Ahmaud Arbery’s modern-day lynching, except these were no vigilantes—these murderers were on the clock as law enforcement. We believe that once the long-awaited body camera footage is released, we will be able to fill in the gaps to this story and hold the officers responsible for Andrew Brown’s death accountable,” he said.
Crump didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment about the judge’s ruling.
Earlier on April 28, Womble said that he disagreed with Brown’s family attorneys’ characterization of the man’s death, saying that Brown struck the deputies twice with his vehicle.
“As it backs up, it does make contact with law enforcement officers,” he said, noting that in the video, the car stops 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.”
The deadly encounter unfolded on April 21 when Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies were serving a warrant on Brown and opened fire as he allegedly attempted to evade capture. Reports, citing arrest records, have said that Brown had a lengthy rap sheet stretching back to 1988, namely involving the dealing of “crack” cocaine, cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and methamphetamine.