A North Carolina judge has allowed the family of Andrew Brown Jr. to view body-camera footage of his death last Wednesday—but the public will have to wait at least 30 days. Brown, 42, was shot by Pasquotank County Sheriff’s deputies who were executing a search and arrest warrant for drug felonies. Officials have given scant details about the incident but Brown’s family say he was shot in the back of the head as he tried to drive away in what they said was an “execution.”
One of the family’s lawyers said on Monday that Brown had backed out of the driveway to “evade being shot” but Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble told a judge on Wednesday that footage shows Brown actually hit officers with his car twice before they began shooting. After hitting one officer, Brown’s car moved forward, “in the direction of law enforcement and makes contact with law enforcement. It is then and only then that you hear shots,” Womble said.
Under North Carolina law, body-cam footage can’t be released without a court order as it’s not considered to be a public record. During Wednesday’s hearing, Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten said he supported the release of the footage. But Womble said he only supported its release if criminal charges weren’t forthcoming. If charges were to be pursued, he said the footage should only be played in a trial. An attorney for several media outlets petitioned for its release, saying that Wooten, the Black family, and the public all want transparency. “The best vaccine to rumor is fact,” attorney Mike Tadych said. So far, Brown’s family and their lawyers have only been shown 20 seconds of edited footage. A judge ruled Wednesday that the video will be delayed to allow an investigation into the shooting.