Pledge follows Justice Department launch of investigation into city police for ‘systemic failures’ after Floyd verdict.
Lawyers for the family of Andrew Brown Jr, a Black man shot by sheriff’s deputies in North Carolina during an attempted arrest last week, said body camera footage and an independent autopsy showed Brown had been “executed”.
Ben Crump, a lawyer for the Brown family, told a press conference on Tuesday “you all know from the death certificate that it was a penetrating gunshot wound to the head,” but the independent autopsy determined “that it was a kill shot to the back of the head”.
Lawyers claim the 42-year-old Brown had his hands on the steering wheel of his car when multiple deputies began firing at him in his driveway in Elizabeth City, a riverfront community near the Virginia border.
The independent autopsy report showed Jackson was shot in the arm before fleeing. The deputies continued to shoot after Brown drove his vehicle away from them. Lawyers say he never presented a threat to the team of seven or eight officers at the scene.
“They were shooting and saying: ‘Let me see your hands!’ at the same time,” lawyer Chantel Cherry-Lassiter told a news briefing on Monday. “Let’s be clear: This was an execution.”
The shooting last Wednesday, a day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd after a highly publicised trial, has so far led to small, peaceful protests in Elizabeth City, whose population of roughly 18,000 is half African American.
But the city, which serves as the seat of Pasquotank County, had declared a state of emergency before showing the video to the family, anticipating it could trigger unrest.
Sheriff Tommy Wooten and Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg said last week that the shooting occurred as deputies were trying to serve arrest and search warrants on Brown stemming from a felony drug charge, and that Brown had a history of resisting arrest.
They urged the public on Monday to hold off judgement until all the evidence is weighed.
The death certificate indicated Brown died of a gunshot wound to the head, according to CNN.
Lawyers for the Brown family will release an independent autopsy on Tuesday morning.
Crump, a lawyer for the family, said there was evidence from at least nine cameras, including police bodycam and dashcam videos, but that the victim’s lawyers were shown only a 20-second portion from a single bodycam video after Pasquotank County Attorney Michael Cox decided against showing more.
“Only in this country can you have the trial of Derek Chauvin be interrupted by the death of Daunte Wright be interrupted by the death of Adam Toledo be interrupted by the death of Ma’Khia Bryant & now … Elizabeth City.”
— The Recount (@therecount) April 26, 2021
“We do not feel we got transparency. We only saw a snippet of the video,” Crump said. “They were going to show the whole video, then decided at the last minute they were going to redact it.”
Crump has served as the civil litigation lawyer for the families of Floyd, Daunte Wright and other African Americans killed by police.
Chauvin, Floyd’s killer, will be sentenced on June 16. Kim Potter, the former Brooklyn Center Police officer who killed Wright after appearing to mistake a pistol for a Taser, will appear in court on May 17.
Potter faces second-degree manslaughter charges in Wright’s death.
Minneapolis saw raucous protests in the year before Chauvin’s conviction but has calmed since the guilty verdicts were announced.
Chauvin’s conviction is seen by many activists as the first step in meaningful police reform.
The FBI announced on Tuesday the “Charlotte Field Office has opened a federal civil rights investigation into the police involved shooting death” of Brown to “determine whether federal laws were violated”.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper also announced he believes the case should be given to a special prosecutor to “help assure the community and Mr. Brown’s family that a decision on pursuing criminal charges is conducted without bias”.
Gov. Cooper issued the following statement urging a special prosecutor following the Pasquotank County shooting: pic.twitter.com/6m5UqxyZ09
— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) April 27, 2021
Cox issued a statement earlier on Monday to explain why it was taking so long to release video evidence. He said state law allowed officials to blur faces if needed to protect an active internal investigation, and the process took time.
Wooten said last week the investigation of the shooting had been turned over to the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and that it had the body camera video.
SBI spokeswoman Anjanette Grube said the investigation will be completed as quickly as possible. Grube said the SBI did not have the authority to release the video, which must be greenlighted by a court under state law.
Wooten has said his office is seeking court approval to release the video to the public. Lawyers for the Brown family said a court hearing was scheduled for Wednesday on whether the bodycam footage could be disclosed to media organisations.
Wooten’s office said on Friday that seven sheriff’s deputies were placed on administrative leave after the shooting and that three additional deputies had resigned, although the resignations were not related to the shooting.