Attorneys for the family of Andrew Brown Jr., at an emotional Tuesday morning news conference in Elizabeth City, said a private autopsy showed that he died when Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies fired a “kill shot to the back of the head.”
Brown, 42, was killed outside his home in Elizabeth City last Wednesday as deputies were serving search and arrest warrants relating to felony drug charges.
After hearing the autopsy results, Brown’s son Khalil Ferebee discouraged violence Tuesday as he addressed the crowd of more than 100 people that stood outside the public safety building downtown. “To my pops … yesterday, I said he was executed,” Ferebee said. “This autopsy report showed me that was correct.”
The autopsy also showed an additional four gunshot wounds to Brown’s arm.“That wasn’t enough?” Ferebee said. “They’re going to shoot him in the back of the head? … That’s not right at all.
“Man, stuff gotta change. It’s really gotta change for real.”
The press conference drew angry shouts from spectators, especially when mothers of other police violence victims spoke.“All Black men are not terrorists,” said Tamika Thatch of High Point, whose son was killed in a church in November.
Motioning to Brown’s son, she said, “If his daddy killed them, he would never walk the streets again. We need to hold them to the same accountability. They need to be locked up today. Yesterday. Last week.”
Elizabeth City officials on Tuesday announced an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in the town starting Tuesday night.
Members of the New Black Panther Party from Washington, D.C., stood in the parking lot for the news conference and called Brown’s death an “assassination” and sought the immediate release of the footage.
As attorney Ben Crump spoke, some members called him a “boot-licking ambulance chaser,” insisting the streets would get justice. And while Khalil urged against violence, attorney Bakari Sellers said calls for peace are not the family’s responsibility“If we want calm, if we want justice,” Sellers said, “that onus is not on the family. That onus is on people who are hiding information.”
Sellers said the family arranged an independent autopsy, “because the medical report we got just said, ‘shot to the head,’ and we wanted to make sure that it was clearly denoted that he was shot in the back of the head.”
Attorneys Wayne Kendall and Crump described the details of the autopsy report with diagrams showing five bullet wounds, with the fatal shot killing Brown within minutes, they said. It caused him to lose control of his vehicle and crash into a tree, they said.
The bullet went into the base of his neck and “perforated and penetrated his skill and his brain,” Crump said. Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, an Elizabeth City attorney who has worked with the family, said it was “an assassination of this unarmed black man.” “That is painful,” Lassiter said. “We are tired. Mothers are tired. Sisters are tired. Fathers are tired. Communities are tired.” Family members of Andrew Brown Jr. were shown only 20 seconds of footage from one of many body-worn cameras from the day he was killed, at the Pasquotank County Public Safety building in Elizabeth City, N.C. on Monday, April 26, 2021
Also Tuesday, the FBI said that it has opened a federal civil rights investigation into Brown’s death. The FBI will work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina and the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. “As this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further,” FBI spokeswoman Shelley Lynch said. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein tweeted support Tuesday for the State Bureau of Investigation’s work on the case.
“A number of people have asked me to take over this prosecution. I want to clarify that under North Carolina law, the District Attorney, not the Attorney General, controls the prosecution of criminal cases,” Stein tweeted. “For my office to play a role in the prosecution, the District Attorney must request our assistance. My office has reached out to District Attorney Andrew Womble to offer that assistance, which he has acknowledged.
Lassiter was allowed to view a 20-second snippet of the video on Monday with Brown’s son Ferebee and Ferebee’s mother, Mia Ferebee. Lassiter said the video showed Brown was shot multiple times while he sat in his vehicle with his hands on the steering wheel, calling it “an execution.” Lassiter said she watched the video more than 10 times, taking notes. “I didn’t sleep very well last night,” she said Tuesday. “I had nightmares. The images from that video stayed with me.” Though the family has seen the 20 seconds of body-worn camera footage, it has not been released publicly, despite pressure from lawmakers and civil rights leaders. Law enforcement agencies cannot release officers’ body camera footage, so it’s up to a judge in this case, per North Carolina law.
Lassiter said the family’s legal team believes that detectives had been observing Brown for a year, in part through the use of a camera mounted to a pole near his house. Attorneys have said officials should release footage from that camera in addition to officers’ body cameras and a dash camera in a police van. Protesters have been marching in Elizabeth City nightly since Brown’s shooting, sometimes for hours, always with distanced police escorts. On Monday night, nearly every restaurant downtown was closed. More than 200 people marched through downtown that evening demanding officials “Release the tape!” The News & Observer reported. Elizabeth City remains in a state of emergency, which was declared in anticipation of protests surrounding the body-cam footage. Lassiter said Tuesday that despite the occasional business in town that has boarded up its windows this week, the marches and protests have been peaceful. “That’s how you know, if something happens, if there is violence, it’s not us,” Lassiter said. During Monday night’s march, Mallory Thornton of Durham used a bullhorn to call chants, and at least twice stopped to challenge police officers blocking traffic for the crowd.
At one intersection, Thornton and the crowd stopped and faced an officer sitting in her car and from 20 feet away, shouted, “Say his name: Andrew Brown! Say his name: Andrew Brown.” The officer remained in her car but appeared to laugh, and Thornton said, “It’s not funny, sister. That could have been your brother.” Seven Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies were placed on leave following Brown’s death. And three others resigned, but a spokesperson has said the resignations weren’t linked to the shooting. Officials have not publicly released the names or the race of the deputies who shot Brown.( Credit ;thenewsobserver.com) for this story.