7 MPs on leave after the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr .; Calls grow to broadcast bodycam footage

Seven deputies from the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina were put on leave after a black man was shot and killed on Wednesday by members of their department serving drug-related search and arrest warrants , the authorities announced on Friday. The disclosure comes as calls rise for the release of assistant body camera images amid signs – including emergency scanner traffic – that Andrew Brown Jr. was shot in the back while trying to escape.

At a press conference on Saturday, Elizabeth City officials, including Mayor Bettie Parker, joined growing calls to release more information on the incident.

The county sheriff’s office is separate from the city police force, and Parker said she has yet to see body camera video of the incident, although her attorney has requested the footage. “Our lawyer told us that more than likely we won’t get it,” she said.

Parker said she had met three of Brown’s family and wanted “as quickly as possible” to change the law around the disclosure of body camera images to make the footage easier to access.

City officials said they were preparing for the protests to continue and so far have not made any arrests following the protests. Parker said: “It did not happen under our watch, but we still have to control the protesters, even if they are doing well, but our police department has now been trained.”

Protesters march through the streets to demand the release of body camera images of the police murder of Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City, North Carolina on April 23, 2021.

LOGAN CYRUS / AFP via Getty Images

Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office Major Aaron Wallio confirmed the number of MPs on leave due to the shooting in an email Friday, the Associated Press reports. Sheriff Tommy Wooten II previously said several MPs fired shots and were put on leave after Brown’s death on Wednesday morning.

Wallio’s email also stated that three other MPs had recently resigned, but he later clarified that the resignations were unrelated to the shooting. He said the department has around 55 sworn-in deputies in total.

Elizabeth City manager Montré Freeman said he would “hope and trust” that the county sheriff’s office would release more information about the incident. “I’m trying with all my heart to believe they’re going to do the right thing. I really believe the sheriff will do it once this information is ready,” he said. “But time is running out and I will just focus on protecting people as we work through this process.”

Freeman said the root of this problem is that Brown lost his life. “The issue at stake is the transparency and accountability of what happened on Wednesday morning,” he said. “At the root of it all is someone who lost their life. One of my citizens lost his life. Her children have lost their father.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said early reports of what happened “are tragic and deeply concerning.”

“The body camera images should be made public as soon as possible,” he said in a tweet Friday night.

Earlier in the day on Friday, the Elizabeth City City Council voted unanimously to send a letter to the sheriff, the local attorney and the state investigation office demanding the release of the body camera images. . The measure also ordered city staff to ask a local court to release the footage if the sheriff denies the council’s request. Wooten confirmed that at least one MP carried an active body camera but did not give a timeline for its release.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” Councilor Michael Brooks said.

The council’s measure is not binding on the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office, which is a separate entity from the city government. In North Carolina, a judge usually has to approve the release of body camera footage, but the law says anyone can apply to court for release. A media coalition, including the Associated Press, also filed a petition on Friday asking a local judge to release the footage.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that President Joe Biden was aware of Brown’s death, but that Biden would likely leave decisions on the timing of the release of the body camera images to authorities. local.

“Obviously the loss of human life is a tragedy and obviously we are thinking of family members and the community,” Psaki said in his daily briefing.

Wooten said deputies from his department, including a tactical team, were trying to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants when Brown was shot, but offered few further details. Neighboring Dare County had issued two arrest warrants for Brown on drug-related charges, including possession with intent to sell cocaine. Brown, 42, had a criminal history dating back to the 1990s, including drug convictions.

Scanner traffic records compiled by broadcastify.com from the morning of the shoot include emergency personnel indicating Brown was shot in the back. An eyewitness said MPs fired shots at Brown as he tried to get away, and a car that authorities removed from the scene appeared to have multiple bullet holes and a shattered rear window .

“We are reacting. The police on the scene advise the shots fired, need EMS”, explains a woman, who refers to the address where the warrant was served.

“EMS has a 42-year-old man with a bullet in his back. We have a viable pulse right now,” a male voice said. Someone then said that first responders were trying to resuscitate the man.

The state sheriff, prosecutor and medical examiner did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment on scanner traffic on Friday. The State Investigation Bureau, which is examining the shooting, declined to comment.

WAVY-TV first reported on Friday the number of MPs on leave or who have resigned.

During Thursday night’s protests, protesters questioned why MPs opened fire in a residential area down the street from a primary school. Brown’s car came to a stop in front of a house near the yellow road signs marking the approach to the school.

“It means they fired a shot in a school area,” said Quentin Jackson, regional director of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, addressing a group of protesters.

People in the crowd nodded and shouted, “Yeah”. A man shouted, “And they shot at a moving vehicle.”

“When does it stop?” Jackson asked. “When does it stop?”

On Wednesday evening, hours after the shooting, Mike Gordon, who lives in the house where Brown’s car hit a tree and came to rest, showed a reporter a bullet hole next to his front door which was walking through an antique wall clock and all in his kitchen.

“I am happy and thankful to the Lord that my wife and I were not at home,” he said.

Still, Gordon, a former military police officer, said he was grateful for law enforcement’s work, and he hoped people would reserve judgment until the facts were revealed.

“You never know what happened or what went wrong,” he said. “But it doesn’t matter now. The young man is gone.”

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