Andrew Brown Jr. shot 5 times, including in back of head, attorneys say independent autopsy shows
Attorneys for the family of Andrew Brown Jr. said on Tuesday that an independent autopsy showed Brown was shot five times, including in the back of the head.
Attorney Wayne Kendall said an independent pathologist hired by Brown's family examined his body. The state’s autopsy has not been released yet.
The doctor noted four wounds to the right arm and one to the head, Kendall said during a news conference.
Brown, a 42-year-old Black man from Elizabeth City, North Carolina, was shot to death last week by one or more deputy sheriffs trying to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants, authorities said. An eyewitness said Brown tried to drive away but was shot dead in his car.
At the news conference Tuesday, Brown's son Khalil Ferebee questioned why deputies had to shoot so many times at a man who, he said, posed no threat.
"Yesterday I said he was executed. This autopsy report shows me that was correct," he said. "It’s obvious he was trying to get away. It’s obvious. And they’re going to shoot him in the back of the head?"
The pathologist, North Carolina-based Dr. Brent Hall, noted a wound to the back of Brown’s head from an undetermined distance that penetrated his skull and brain. He said there was no exit wound.
"It was a kill shot to the back of the head," family attorney Ben Crump said.
Two shots to Brown’s right arm penetrated the skin. Two others shots to the arm grazed him. The pathologist could not determine the distance from which they were fired.
The shooting prompted days of protests and calls for justice and transparency. The body camera footage has not been made public.
Demonstrators march in the street to demand the release of body cam footage of the police killing of Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City, North Carolina on April 23, 2021. - Eyewitnesses say that Brown Jr. was shot and killed by Pasquotank County Sher
Under North Carolina law, a judge must generally sign off on the release of law enforcement body camera footage. Local activists and leaders of the Elizabeth City government have demanded the release of the footage, and a coalition of media filed a petition in court to make it public. The state’s Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statement calling for the swift release of the footage.
On Monday, Brown’s family was able to view a 20-second portion of the body camera footage. A family lawyer said the brief clip showed officers opened fire on Brown while he had his hands on the steering wheel. Lawyer Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said that she lost count of the numerous gunshots while viewing the footage.
The family had been scheduled to see the footage earlier in the day but the viewing was delayed after law enforcement said redactions were needed on the video, such as blurred faces, according to WAVY-TV.
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Over the weekend, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II said he would ask a judge as early as Monday to release the video to the public as soon as he's confident it won't compromise an investigation into the shooting.
"Only a judge can release the video. That's why I've asked the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to confirm for me that the releasing of the video will not undermine their investigation. Once I get that confirmation, our county will file a motion in court, hopefully Monday, to have the footage released," Wooten said.
According to court documents released Monday, the search warrant being served when deputies shot and killed Brown says that investigators used information from an informant, including recordings of drug buys.
The search warrant has been cited as the reason that deputies came to Brown’s house. Wooten has said that deputies shot and killed Brown while serving drug-related search and arrest warrants but released few other details. An eyewitness account and emergency scanner traffic indicate that Brown was driving away and may have been shot in the back. Seven deputies have since been placed on leave.
The warrant obtained by the Pasquotank County sheriff’s office and signed by a local judge said that an investigator in nearby Dare County was told by the informant that the person had been purchasing crack cocaine and other drugs for over a year from Brown, according to the Associated Press. The warrant said that in March, local narcotics officers used the informant to conduct controlled purchases of methamphetamine and cocaine on two separate occasions. The warrant says both buys were recorded.
Previously disclosed arrest warrants from Dare County included charges of possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine and methamphetamine against Brown.
The shooting has prompted days of protests and demands for accountability in the eastern North Carolina city of about 18,000.
The Associated Press contributed to this report