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Mayor: Elizabeth City is a microcosm of what's happening across US
02:14 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

A North Carolina sheriff says he wants body camera footage of Andrew Brown Jr.’s fatal shooting to be made public, but there will have to be a court motion to do it.

“Only a judge can release the video,” Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten said in a video message posted Saturday on Facebook. “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 he gets that confirmation, the sheriff said, the county will file a motion in court, “hopefully Monday,” to have that footage released. His announcement followed calls from Elizabeth City leaders for the footage to be released.

Brown, a 42-year-old Black man, was shot and killed Wednesday by Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies when they attempted to serve him with an arrest warrant in Elizabeth City, in the northeast corner of the state, the sheriff’s office said.

Few details have been released about the shooting, but the sheriff previously said “many” body cameras were worn. According to dispatch audio from that day, first responders can be heard saying a man was hit and had gunshot wounds to the back.

Brown’s family may have the opportunity to see the footage Monday, when family members have an appointment with the county attorney at the sheriff’s office, Brown family attorney Harry Daniels told CNN.

Brown’s family met with Wooten on Friday and thought they would be shown the body camera footage. But that didn’t happen, they told CNN.

What they were told, said Brown’s aunt, Betty Banks, was that authorities did not find any drugs or weapons in Brown’s car or in his house. The warrant that was being served on Brown when he was shot was related to felony drug charges, Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg said.

“It’s clear to us there is something bad on that bodycam video,” civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Brown’s family, told CNN on Saturday. “Transparency is essential.”

Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners Chairman Lloyd Griffin said in a statement released Sunday that the board supports Wooten’s handling of the body camera footage, and he called on people to have patience with the investigation.

“The commissioners support Sheriff Wooten, who is trying to maintain public safety in our county while also being responsive to the needs of the Brown family and those concerned about this shooting,” Griffin said. “It’s easy to criticize and it’s hard to lead.”

“Rushing the gathering of evidence and interviewing of witnesses would hurt any future legal case that might be brought in the wake of this tragedy,” Griffin said.

Protesters rally in front of the city municipal building in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, on Friday.

‘I just want justice’

Brown’s son, Khalil Ferebee, told reporters at a news conference Saturday he wants justice.

“With all these killings going on, I never expected this to happen so close to home,” Ferebee said. “He left a close and tight family, with each other every day, talking to each other every day.”

He added that Brown’s children and family were what “drove him as a person.”

“And now I got to live every day, my newborn without even get a chance to meet him at all,” Ferebee said. “And that’s gonna hurt me every day. I just want justice.”

Seven deputies have been placed on administrative leave following the shooting, two others have resigned and one deputy retired, Wooten told CNN. Not all the deputies who were placed on administrative leave discharged their firearms, he added, but they were all part of the warrant operation.

Protesters in Elizabeth City on Saturday call for the release of body camera footage of the police killing of Andrew Brown Jr.

The sheriff did not disclose how many shots were fired.

In the sheriff’s office video message posted to Facebook on Saturday, Fogg said they have asked the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association to appoint an outside sheriff’s office to conduct an internal affairs investigation of everyone involved in the incident.

“The focus on the internal affairs review will be to see if any disciplinary actions need to be taken,” Fogg said. “We will fully cooperate with the work of the outside investigator and we will hopefully begin that process immediately.”

A ‘microcosm’ of what’s happening across US

The shooting comes as protests have broken out in various parts of the country in response to other fatal police shootings of people of color.

“Elizabeth City is a microcosm now of what is going on across the nation,” Mayor Bettie Parker said at a news conference on Saturday. “I see now that no city, small or large, is exempt.”

“So we are ready to do whatever we need to do to supplement what we’re already doing to make sure nothing like this happens again,” Parker said.

Parker said no one from the Elizabeth City Police Department was involved in the shooting or in serving the arrest warrant or search warrant.

She added that city leaders have reached out to county officials and wanted to give them a chance to “have control of the narrative because it was not our department that was involved.”

In an emergency meeting Friday, the Elizabeth City Council voted unanimously to request the release of body camera footage of the shooting.

CNN’s Natasha Chen, Kevin Conlon, Dianne Gallagher, Shawn Nottingham, Brian Todd, Devon M. Sayers and Kay Jones contributed to this report.