More than three days after Andrew Brown, Jr. was shot deadly by a deputy sheriff in Pasquotank County, North Carolina, his family said he knew little about why police killed him.
In a duel statement on Saturday, the sheriff’s department and Brown’s family lawyer painted conflicting pictures of the state of the investigation.
Brown, a 42-year-old black man and 7-year-old father, was shot dead on Wednesday when lawmakers were trying to arrest him.
In an interview with USA TODAY, a family lawyer emphasized that even though they were eligible under North Carolina law, the family had not yet seen body camera footage of a deadly encounter. Families also want the footage to be released, but such a process is more complicated under state law.
“The family requested the footage, but it wasn’t available,” said Harry Daniels, an Atlanta lawyer representing the Brown family. “Sheriffs are blaming DA, and DAs are blaming sheriffs.”
“Sure, this is illegal and people will know it when the video is released,” he said. “We even think there may have been criminal activity.”
Daniels said he was shot from behind by lawmakers as Brown was trying to escape.
Meanwhile, sheriff Tommy Uten said he hopes to ask the judge to release the footage on Monday with the approval of the state agency investigating the case.
The Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office has recently repeatedly promised transparency in its official statement.
“I want to publish body camera footage,” Uten said. “Some people mistakenly claim that my office has the power to do that. That’s not true. Only judges can publish the video.”
The law governing the release of body camera footage in North Carolina is very complex, burdensome, and costly for victims and their families, C. Raleigh, North Carolina, who specializes in communications. Amanda Martin said.
According to Martin, the law clearly states that family members and lawyers in the video should at least be able to see the footage. There are some caveats, she said, but it’s very rare for police to deny access to seeing body camera footage.
But when it comes to publishing the footage, the law becomes more complicated.
Requests for a copy of the body camera video must be made in writing, even from the victim’s family or their attorney, and must be submitted to a judge in a higher court.
A coalition of media outlets, including USA TODAY’s parent company Gannett, has drafted a petition requesting local judges to publish the footage.
“It would actually be illegal for law enforcement agencies to release it without a judge’s order,” Martin said. “The biggest complaint about this law is that it is time consuming and expensive.”
There are patchwork of local methods nationwide that regulate how to publish the images of police body cameras, and it is not uncommon for there to be a delay between the shooting date and the release of the images.
In a recent high-profile case in Chicago, authorities said March 29, 13-year-old Adam Toledo’s deadly shooting Published on April 15th.
Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer who represented George Floyd’s family Killed by Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin Last year, he announced in a press release on Saturday that he would join Andrews’ legal team.
“This family and the Elizabeth City community are now worthy of an answer,” the press release quotes Crump as saying. “There may be light at the end of the tunnel where one pandemic occurs, but another pandemic continues to rage within our borders. Excessive force against the left-behind minority. ..
In an interview with USA TODAY, Crump said he was traveling to North Carolina on Sunday and was trying to release the footage as soon as possible.
“I’m going to release this video,” Crump said. “We will demand it not only in court but also in public opinion courts. The general public pays all this money for body camera video for the single purpose of transparency.”
The Associated Press reported that seven agents of the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office had taken paid leave since the shooting.
“I know people are looking for answers. I know you’re angry,” Uten said in a Facebook video on Saturday. “We are striving to do the right thing, so please give us your patience and support.”
Protests in Elizabeth City have been largely calm so far, and at a press conference on Saturday morning, officials from a small coastal town thanked the protesters for maintaining peace and body cameras. Lamented that the release of the video was delayed.
“We probably don’t know more about what you know,” Elizabeth City Manager Monterey Freeman said at a press conference.
This article was originally published in USA TODAY: Andrew Brown Jr.’s Death: Family Seeking Answers, Sheriffs Seeking Patience