The latest on the police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr.

By Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha, Mike Hayes and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 7:10 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021
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6:15 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

North Carolina governor says federal officials should continue to investigate the shooting

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said a special prosecutor should have been put in charge of Andrew Brown Jr. case. 

“Federal officials should continue to thoroughly investigate this incident. Public confidence would have been better served with a special prosecutor and by quickly making public the incident footage. Our state should pass specific laws to increase transparency, confidence and accountability in the justice system,” Cooper said in a statement to CNN.

From the beginning, Cooper has called for the footage to be made public as well as a special prosecutor be assigned in the case.

5:21 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

Sheriff petitions court to release body-camera video in Brown shooting

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch, Devon M. Sayers and Brian Todd

In a court filing on Tuesday, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten is asking for a public release of the body-camera video in the Andrew Brown Jr. shooting. 

This comes after the district attorney announced earlier today that the deputies who fatally shot Brown last month were justified in using deadly force

In his petition, Wooten said now that the internal and criminal investigations have been completed, he is asking for an order to release the videos without redaction.

In North Carolina, body-camera video and recordings from law enforcement is not considered public record and can only be released through a court order.

The judge in the case previously declined a request by media to release the recordings.

4:52 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

3 deputies who fired shots at Brown will be reinstated and retrained, sheriff says

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch, Devon M. Sayers and Brian Todd

Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten
Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten Pasquotank Sheriff's Office

The three deputies who fired shots at Andrew Brown Jr. will be reinstated and retrained, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten said in a video statement after the district attorney announced the shooting was justified and no charges would be filed.

Wooten also announced disciplinary action would be taken against the deputies that responded to the scene.

“While the district attorney concluded that no criminal law was violated, this was a terrible and tragic outcome, and we could do better,” Wooten said.

Two deputies did not turn on their body cameras during the incident, Wooten said. “That is unacceptable, and those deputies will be disciplined,” he said.

He also said there was no medical team on standby near the scene, which is policy.

Wooten said the entire team will be reconfigured and retrained.

When asked her response to the sheriff’s message, Brown family attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said, “I am not sure what the discipline is going to entail. They did not follow their own policies. They were not being safe during the entire interaction.”

When asked if she felt the deputies should be fired, “It needs to be severe discipline,” she said. 

4:18 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

Judge denies media coalition petition for release of video in fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr.

From CNN’s Devon M. Sayers

A North Carolina judge issued a written order on Monday ruling that video from four body cameras associated with last month's shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. will not be released publicly at this time.

North Carolina law says body camera video is not a public record and cannot be released without a court order. Last month, a media coalition including CNN petitioned for the footage to be publicly released.

In his decision, Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Foster held that six of the eight statutory factors governing release did not weigh in favor of the media coalition, including that public release would reveal information regarding a person that is of a highly sensitive and personal nature, may harm the reputation or jeopardize the safety of a person, would create a serious threat to the fair and orderly administration of justice, and that confidentiality is necessary to protect an active internal or criminal investigation. 

The only factor that the court found weighed in favor of public release was that release of the footage is necessary to advance a compelling public interest.

The court's decision was dated Monday and file stamped on Monday afternoon, hours before a North Carolina district attorney held a news conference showing four video clips that show Pasquotank County sheriff's deputies firing at Andrew Brown Jr. 

When asked at the news conference about his decision to present clips of the footage, District Attorney Andrew Womble noted that he had spoken to the judge prior to the conference about the video footage but did not obtain a court order. 

Womble explained that he could "display" the videos now that he has made his decision not to charge the deputies involved but would not be releasing copies of the footage.

 

3:49 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

North Carolina's attorney general calls on the court to release all videos in Brown's fatal shooting

From CNN's Dianne Gallagher

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein on Tuesday called on the court to release all the video footage in the Andrew Brown Jr. fatal shooting.

“Andrew Brown Jr.’s family and many people in Elizabeth City and beyond continue to grieve, and I extend my deepest sympathy to them," Stein tweeted.

"I continue to believe it is critically important to release the full body camera footage to the public. The trust in our criminal justice system that is currently fractured will only be more difficult to repair w/o complete transparency. Now that the investigation has concluded, it is imperative that the court authorize the release of the full video to the public immediately.”

Earlier Tuesday, Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble showed footage from multiple body cameras from the officers that responded for the first time. He said that in total the deputies' encounter with Brown lasted 44 seconds.

Womble said that the deputies who fatally shot Brown last month were justified in using deadly force, saying Brown "recklessly" drove at the officers on scene while trying to flee arrest.

2:58 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

Attorneys for Brown's family: "We certainly got neither transparency nor justice today"

From CNN’s Devon Sayers in Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Attorneys for the family of Andrew Brown Jr. released a statement Tuesday afternoon in response to Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble announcing that the deputies who fatally shot Brown last month were justified and will not be criminally charged.

“Andrew Brown Jr., his grieving family, and this community deserve answers. And they received anything but from D.A. Womble’s attempt to whitewash this unjustified killing. To say this shooting was justified, despite the known facts, is both an insult and a slap in the face to Andrew’s family, the Elizabeth City community, and to rational people everywhere,” Ben Crump, Bakari Sellers, Harry Daniels, and Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

“We demand that the court release the full video and State Bureau of Investigation report that will help shed some much-needed daylight on this case and bring a small measure of justice to this family and this community. Because we certainly got neither transparency nor justice today. We request that the Federal Department of Justice intervene immediately,” the statement said.

Womble said Tuesday that the deputies who fatally shot Brown last month were justified in using deadly force, saying Brown "recklessly" drove at the officers on the scene while trying to flee arrest.

2:24 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

Attorney representing Brown's family says video shown today does not show him using vehicle as a weapon

From CNN’s Brian Todd and Devon M. Sayers

Bakari Sellers, an attorney representing the family of Andrew Brown Jr., told CNN that the video that District Attorney Andrew Womble showed at Tuesday’s news conference at no point shows Brown using his vehicle as a weapon. 

Sellers told CNN that attorneys representing the Brown family believe that Womble never adequately explained the shot in the back of Brown’s head. 

Sellers went on to say that the attorneys would be filing a petition to release the entire contents of the body-camera video and the entire findings of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) probe.

Sellers also said that he believed that Womble should be off this case.

In coming to his decision not to charge the officers, Womble relied on an investigative report into the shooting conducted by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. That report is not considered a public record and will not be publicly released, the SBI said.

Womble said Tuesday that the deputies who fatally shot Brown last month were justified in using deadly force, saying Brown "recklessly" drove at the officers on scene while trying to flee arrest. Four body-camera videos were shown to the public today of the incident for the first time.

CNN's Madeline Holcombe and Eric Levenson contributed reporting to this post.  

1:11 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

The district attorney has wrapped up a news conference on the Brown shooting. Here's what happened.

Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble
Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble Travis Long/The News & Observe/AP

Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble just wrapped up a more than hour-long news conference on the April 21 shooting of Andrew Brown Jr.

During the news conference, Womble showed body-camera footage from the incident for the first time.

If you're just reading in now, here's what you missed:

  • The district attorney said the officers' use of deadly force was justified: Womble said that three deputies fired a total of 14 shots while trying to execute an arrest warrant against Brown. During the encounter, Brown was struck by bullets in the shoulder and head. "Mr. Brown's death, while tragic, was justified because Mr. Brown's actions caused three deputies to reasonably believe it was necessary to use deadly force to protect themselves and others," Womble said.
  • No officers will face criminal charges in the Brown shooting: Womble said that it was his conclusion that the police acted "reasonably." He said, "The actions were consistent with the training and fully supported under the law in protecting their lives and this community."
  • The district attorney played video footage of the shooting for the media: Womble showed footage from multiple body cameras from the officers that responded for the first time. He said that in total the deputies' encounter with Brown lasted 44 seconds.
  • Womble has not spoken to Brown's family about his findings: The district attorney said that he did not speak with Brown's family before today's news conference. "Our original discussions immediately after this occurred with Mr. Brown's attorneys did not go well," he added.

2:23 p.m. ET, May 18, 2021

District attorney says he has not spoken with Brown's family about findings of state investigation  

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

From left, attorney Bakari Sellers, Andrew Brown Jr.'s son Khalil Ferebee and attorney Harry Daniel listen to a question during a news conference in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, on May 11.
From left, attorney Bakari Sellers, Andrew Brown Jr.'s son Khalil Ferebee and attorney Harry Daniel listen to a question during a news conference in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, on May 11. Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble said he has not spoken with Andrew Brown Jr.'s family about his announcement today that the deputies who fatally shot Brown last month were "justified" in using deadly force.

"That's not the way I would normally want to do this," Womble said when asked if he had spoken to the Brown family about the findings of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation probe.

"Our original discussions immediately after this occurred with Mr. Brown's attorneys did not go well," he said.

He said they attempted to hold a second meeting with the family, but attorneys were not present.

"Obviously, any party that is represented by counsel I have to be very careful in dealing with attorneys before I deal with parties. I was unable to do so, and at this point the relationship is just constrained to the point that I did not speak with them. I'd be happy to talk with them at length after this is over," Womble said.

Womble also responded to calls to appoint a special prosecutor for the investigation. He said he felt "absolutely" confident to conduct an investigation without bias.

"I'm elected by the people of the first judicial district to do exactly this job. A special prosecutor, or outside counsel, is not accountable to the people of this judicial district. I am," he said.