An attorney for Andrew Brown Jr.’s family is disputing a North Carolina district attorney’s contention that Brown used his vehicle as a deadly weapon against the deputies who fatally shot him.
On Tuesday, May 18, 2021, District Attorney Andrew Womble announced he had decided not to file charges against the Pasquotank County deputies.
“I find that the facts of this case clearly illustrate the officers who use deadly force on Andrew Brown Jr. did so reasonably and only when a violent felon used a deadly weapon to place their lives in danger,” Womble said at a news conference.
But attorney Wayne Kendall tells NPR’s Morning Edition that videos played by the prosecutor showed that Brown was attempting to escape the deputies. Other videos seen by a family attorney showed that Brown “had his hands visible on the wheel” of the vehicle, Kendall said.
“What I saw on … his playback of the video did not fit the description that he was describing to the assembled press at the press conference,” Kendall said.
“He said that the victim, Mr. Brown, was using the vehicle in an offensive manner. And I did not see that. I saw him attempting to escape and the fact that he was shot in the back of the head indicates that the shots were coming from his rear as he was attempting to leave the scene. And I did not see Mr. Brown aim that vehicle at any of those deputies that were on the scene at the time.”
Kendall said Brown’s family is asking the court to release the full, unredacted bodycam videos of the April 21 incident. Brown, 42, was killed in Elizabeth City as deputies arrived to carry out warrants in drug-related charges. “None of us have seen the full videos in their entirety unredacted,” Kendall said.
He said a judge “did not allow all of the defense team to see the videos. He only allowed one representative who was a North Carolina licensed attorney to view that 19-minute segment of the four or five bodycam videos. And what our representative who saw those videos stated to us was that Andrew Brown had his hands visible on the wheel of the vehicle when the videos began and his hands were clearly visible at all times.”
“The deputies shouted commands to him. He backed his car up and drove across a vacant lot, which is next door to his home, and they were shooting into the vehicle,” Kendall said.
“According to our representative, the shots started before he ever put the vehicle in reverse to try to flee that particular scene. So there is a discrepancy between what our representative said he saw and what the district attorney indicated yesterday in his press conference that was on the videos. So we don’t know until we see all of the videos in their entirety as to what those videos actually show,” Kendall added.
Kendall said members of Brown’s family are “very disappointed” in Womble’s decision not to prosecute.
“Well, of course, they’re very disappointed in the fact that the district attorney there in Pasquotank County decided not to proceed with criminal charges against these deputy sheriffs officers as we believe they violated the law when they took Andrew Brown Jr.’s life in the manner in which they did.”