Family Of Andrew Brown Jr. Allowed To See More Bodycam Footage
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
The family of Andrew Brown Jr. is learning more about the circumstances surrounding Brown's fatal shooting by sheriff's deputies in North Carolina last month. Family members and their lawyers were allowed to view approximately 20 minutes of additional body camera footage from the shooting that took place while deputies were serving a felony drug warrant. Speaking to reporters afterwards today, attorney Chance Lynch said deputies, quote, "ambushed Brown as he sat in his car."
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
CHANCE LYNCH: At all times, his hands were visible. At all times, you can see that he was not a threat.
CHANG: NPR's Sarah McCammon joins us now from Elizabeth City.
SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa.
CHANG: So what did the family see today on this body cam footage?
MCCAMMON: Well, as we've heard, the family was allowed to view more of the footage. Previously, they'd seen just a 20-second clip, which they said showed what they described as an execution by sheriff's deputies. And today, they saw footage taken from five body cams plus a dash cam, which they say corroborates that conclusion. Here's Brown's oldest son, Khalil Ferebee.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
KHALIL FEREBEE: The video I seen last week is pretty much the same as what I seen today, just a few more details. But he wasn't in the wrong at all. What's in the dark's going to come to the light.
MCCAMMON: So after they watched this footage today, Ailsa, the family and their lawyers told reporters that they had seen deputies standing on a sidewalk firing multiple shots at Brown. They say at no point did Brown pose a threat to them and that there were no weapons found in his car. These clips, totaling 20 minutes or so, were sections of tape that superior court Judge Jeffrey Foster has deemed appropriate under state law for the family to see because he says those sections contain images of Andrew Brown Jr.
CHANG: I mean, there has been so much attention on this footage. Why hasn't it been released to the public yet?
MCCAMMON: There's been a lot of pressure on Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten to release the footage. But under North Carolina state law, he can't do that without a court order. So a couple of weeks ago, the family and a coalition of media groups asked the judge, Judge Foster, to release the tapes. He said doing so could compromise the investigation or even a potential jury pool if charges are eventually brought against the deputies who were involved. So he said that the release of the tapes should be delayed - the release to the public, that is - for a few weeks while the state investigation is underway but that the family would be able to see these portions sooner.
CHANG: It's been almost three weeks since the shooting. You're there, Sarah. What is the mood like there in Elizabeth City?
MCCAMMON: There continue to be just about daily protests, usually very peaceful, anywhere from several dozen people to a couple hundred people, especially early on. There were a few dozen protesters here today while the family was viewing that footage. Among them was Linnea Johnson, who told me she is not satisfied with the level of transparency coming from local officials.
LINNEA JOHNSON: Well, we just want the family to see all two hours of the footage, and we just want justice to be served. But 20 minutes of two hours of footage is not justice.
MCCAMMON: And civil rights activists say they want a special prosecutor to oversee this case. They're also calling for local officials to recuse themselves, especially the district attorney, who has argued in court against releasing those tapes, at least in the short term.
CHANG: Well, where does the investigation stand at this point?
MCCAMMON: So the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is in charge of the case and has been looking into it. They're not saying when they expect to wrap up. The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation to see if any federal laws were broken, and three sheriff's deputies remain on administrative leave. The sheriff says four, who he says were not involved in firing their weapons that day, are back on active duty.
CHANG: That is NPR's Sarah McCammon in Elizabeth City, N.C.
Thank you, Sarah.
MCCAMMON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.