Protesters, family demand release of bodycam video in fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr.


More than 100 protesters gathered for the second night in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, to demand the release of body camera footage in the police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr.

The Brown family’s attorney, Harry Daniels, told USA TODAY a motion will be filed Friday to ask a judge to order the footage be released.

Body camera footage cannot be released without a court order, according to the district attorney and the Pasquotank County attorney.

“To my understanding, there is body camera footage to this incident, and it has not been released,” Daniels said. “A lot of speculation is going on — we’re asking for answers, accountability and transparency.”

Hundreds of protesters shared in Daniels’ frustration over the lack of details released about the death of Brown, a Black man who was fatally shot by police Wednesday.

Signs reading “Release the video” and “We want the truth,” could be seen in a crowd of protesters who gathered Thursday night for a second evening of protests, according to a photo tweeted by a News & Observer reporter.

Additional rallies have been planned for Friday afternoon, and the city’s public schools said it would switch to remote learning Thursday “due to community concern and out of an abundance of caution,” though it did not explicitly cite protests.

Officials responded to mounting pressure to release details in a video statement Thursday night, during which Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy S. Wooten said the state Bureau of Investigation had the body camera footage.

But he did not address whether his office had asked a judge to release it to the public. The Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office has not responded to a request for comment.

“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,” said Daniel Fogg, Pasquotank County chief deputy, in a video statement. “We will not offer an opinion on this because we do not have all the facts.”

In a statement, District Attorney Andrew Womble and Pasquotank County Attorney R. Michael Cox said “the law prohibits us from publicly releasing the body worn camera footage.”

“The law does allow a private viewing by the family of Mr. Brown. We are working with their attorney to arrange that,”the attorneys said.

Elizabeth City Councilman Darius J. Horton urged officials to release the footage immediately at an emergency meeting of the council Wednesday evening. Outside the meeting, a crowd gathered, some holding signs proclaiming “Black Lives Matter.”

Deputies, who have not been identified, were serving an arrest warrant related to felony drug charges at Brown’s home Wednesday when Brown was fatally shot, according to Pasquotank County sheriff.

According to a witness, Brown was trying to drive away when the shooting happened. Demetria Williams, Brown’s neighbor, told the Associated Press she saw the deputy fire multiple times at Brown before the car skidded and hit a tree.

The deputy involved in the shooting is on leave.

Brown was unarmed, said Harry Daniels, the Brown family’s attorney, at a Thursday news conference. He said witness accounts paint a picture of an “unlawful, unjustified killing.”

Relatives say Brown, 42, was quick to crack a joke and had an easy smile, despite hardship, loss and troubles with the law.

Brown was partially paralyzed on his right side by an accidental shooting, and he lost an eye when he was stabbed, according to aunt Glenda Brown Thomas.

He encouraged his children to make good grades even though he dropped out of high school himself. Above all, he was determined to give them a better life than he had, relatives said.

“He had a good laugh, a nice smile. And he had good dimples,” Thomas told the Associated Press a day after her nephew was killed. “You know, when he’s talking and smiling, his dimples would always show. And he was kind of like a comedian. He always had a nice joke.”

Newsom has been aggressively touring the state, touting its progress on vaccines. He has said he is taking the recall effort “very seriously” but has branded the drive as a “partisan political power grab” and the work of extremist conservatives and white supremacists like the Proud Boys.

Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympic athlete-turned-transgender activist and reality TV star, has declared her intention to run for California governor in the looming recall race to unseat incumbent Democrat Gavin Newsom.

In a website launched Friday, Jenner says: “I’m In! California has been my home for nearly 50 years. I came here because I knew that anyone, regardless of their background or station in life, could turn their dreams into reality. But for the past decade, we have seen the glimmer of the Golden State reduced by one-party rule that places politics over progress and special interests over people. Sacramento needs an honest leader with a clear vision.”

The website does not identify her as being affiliated with any political party.

She added: “This campaign will be powered by everyday Californians who deserve leadership that is accountable to them, not the special interests in Sacramento.”

Jenner, a longtime Republican, in 2018 executed a political about-face, turning against President Donald Trump with a mea culpa column declaring, “I was wrong” about Trump’s commitment to LGBTQ rights.

“Trump was the first Republican presidential candidate to claim to support this valuable, vulnerable community, and I was encouraged by the applause he received when he said at the Republican National Convention in July 2016 that he would stand up for the LGBTQ community,” Jenner said in a column published in the Washington Post.

“Sadly, I was wrong. The reality is that the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president…He has ignored our humanity. He has insulted our dignity. He has made trans people into political pawns as he whips up animus against us in an attempt to energize the most right-wing segment of his party…”

In a June 2020 interview with People about the five-year anniversary of her transition, Jenner said she has “changed her political views.”

“I’ve changed my thinking in a lot of ways,” she told the outlet. Now identifying as “economically conservative, socially progressive,” she believes “we need equality for all, regardless of who’s in the White House.”

Jenner has ties to Trump, who remains broadly unpopular in California outside his GOP base, as well as his former political operatives.

The team advising Jenner has included Trump’s former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, and GOP fundraiser Caroline Wren, who worked for Trump’s campaign.

In her announcement Friday, Jenner described herself as a “compassionate disrupter” and that “career politicians have over-promised and under-delivered.” She called Newsom’s time as governor “disastrous.”

Newsom opponents, frustrated with the governor’s liberal policies and approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, in March turned in what they said was over 2 million petition signatures to qualify a recall election against him. The California secretary of state is in the process of validating those signatures; however, most observers expect the measure to reach the necessary valid signature count of about 1.5 million.

In this Nov. 21, 2020, file photo, demonstrators shout slogans while carrying a sign calling for a recall on Gov. Gavin Newsom during a protest against a stay-at-home order amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Huntington Beach, Calif.
If the recall qualifies for the ballot, as expected, voters would be asked two questions: first, whether Newsom should be removed from office. The second would be a list of replacement candidates to choose from, if more than 50% of voters support removing Newsom from office.

If Californians vote to recall the governor, Newsom would be removed from office and the candidate who receives a plurality of votes — not the majority, just more than the other listed candidates — will take his place, according to the secretary of state.

The highest per capita clusters of signatures came from rural communities — higher concentrations were also present in more conservative areas of the state. Five previous attempts to recall Newsom were unsuccessful.