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North Carolina officials are facing mounting pressure to release information related to the fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. earlier this week.
Brown was shot and killed by a Pasquotank County Sheriff’s deputy during the execution of a search warrant on Wednesday morning in Elizabeth City. Brown’s family’s attorney, who characterized his death as an "unlawful, unjustified killing," have stated the 42-year-old Black man was unarmed.
Now they are demanding authorities release the body camera footage of the shooting.
"To my understanding, there is body camera footage to this incident, and it has not been released," attorney Harry Daniels said at a press conference, according to Norfolk television station WTKR. "A lot of speculation is going on — we're asking for answers, accountability and transparency."
Daniels said he planned to file a court motion to have the body camera footage released on Friday.
Other witnesses also said Brown was trying to flee when deputies opened fire on him.
"By the time I got [outside], they was standing behind his car," Demetria Williams told CNN. "He was trying to get away. And they stood behind him. I couldn't tell you what, who shot him. I couldn't do that. But one of the officers or maybe a couple shot him."
County authorities declined to comment on the body camera footage's release this week.
"The issue will likely come down to whether our deputies had reason to believe Mr. Brown's actions put them at risk for serious injury or death. We will not offer an opinion on this because we do not have all the facts," Pasquotank County Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg said in a recorded video statement.
The body camera footage is now in the possession of the State Bureau of Investigation.
The deputies involved in Brown's shooting have been placed on administrative leave, Sheriff Tommy S. Wooten confirmed.
The investigation “may take some time,” Wooten said. They described Brown as a “convicted felon with a history of resisting arrest." The county sheriff vowed to hold deputies accountable if evidence of wrongdoing emerges.
“That's what the citizens expect me to do and it's the right thing to do," Wooten added.
Prosecutors also said it wasn’t possible to release the body camera footage publicly due to state laws.
“We know people want to see the body camera footage,” District Attorney Andrew Womble and Pasquotank County Attorney R. Michael Cox said in a statement. “It is reasonable for people to ask to see it, because such video can help provide key context about what happened in incidents like this. "However, under North Carolina law, police body worn camera footage is not a public record and cannot be released to the press or public without a court order.
The statement noted, however, that a “private viewing” of the body camera video with Brown’s family was being coordinated.
“The law does allow a private viewing by the family of Mr. Brown, and we are working with their attorney to arrange that,” Womble and Cox added.
Elizabeth City is located approximately 170 miles northeast of Raleigh. Protesters have gathered in the small southern city’s streets for days following Brown’s shooting.
“He wasn’t trying to harm police,” Kayla Parker, one protester, told WTKR. “He was just trying to flee.”
“I just want justice and peace all over the world,” Parker added. “It’s crazy how just in our little small town that this would happen. I never would have thought we would be here, but we are.”
Protests were scheduled to continue on Friday afternoon.
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