Andrew Brown Jr. Shooting: Prosecutor Says It Was ‘Justified’

Andrew Brown Jr. was fatally shot in Elizabeth City, N.C., by police in April.,


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A North Carolina prosecutor Tuesday said that the fatal shooting of a Black man in Elizabeth City, N.C., by local sheriff’s deputies was justified.

R. Andrew Womble, the district attorney for North Carolina’s First Judicial District, made the announcement in a news conference on Tuesday, during which he described Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies’ efforts to serve a drug-related warrant on Andrew Brown, Jr.

Three deputies opened fire on Mr. Brown as he tried to get away in his car on April 21. A private autopsy paid for by Mr. Brown’s family showed that he was hit by five bullets and killed by a shot to the back of the head.

Mr. Brown’s family and their lawyers have said that the shooting was an “execution.” Mr. Womble said that Mr. Brown, at one point, drove his car “directly at” one deputy, after which the first shot was fired.

Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, a Democrat, had asked Mr. Womble to turn the case over to a special prosecutor, as have lawyers for the Brown family.

The death of Mr. Brown, 42, at his house on a quiet residential street, came just days after a jury found a Minneapolis police officer guilty of murdering another Black man, George Floyd, sparked multiple days and nights of intense but peaceful protest in Elizabeth City, as well as national attention.

A lawyer for the deputies said the killing was justified, and Mr. Womble, in an earlier court hearing, said that the body and dash cam video of the incident showed that Mr. Brown made contact with deputies with his car, and that officers opened fire thereafter.

But this version of what the body camera footage shows is starkly different from the description offered by Mr. Brown’s family and two members of their legal team, who have been given two occasions to see some of the footage.

On April 30, a local judge delayed the public release of the videos, citing concerns that their release could compromise the investigation. The decision angered demonstrators and family members who said members of the public should have the right to see the recordings and decide for themselves whether the shooting was justified.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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