PASQUOTANK Co., N.C. - District Attorney Andrew Womble provided updates Tuesday on the state's investigation into Andrew Brown Jr.'s death after months or protests and calls to release body camera footage of the shooting.
During the briefing, the DA said after reviewing the investigation, Brown’s death was justified. Womble says Brown’s actions made it reasonable for deputies to use deadly force.
DA Womble walked through the events that took place leading up to the fatal shooting by deputies on April 21. Womble says deputies received two arrest warrants along with a search warrant for both of Brown's vehicle and home.
Womble says the warrants were in reference to Brown being accused of selling drugs in the area.
Womble began to describe the moments leading up to Brown's death. He says that six deputies approached Brown's vehicle on the day of the shooting and told him to show his hands and other commands.
Womble said Sergeant Meade fired the first shot in the front windshield after he says Brown drove towards one of the deputies who was directly in front of his car. Womble says Brown's vehicle drove across the lot and several more shots were fired. He says a total of 14 shots were fired. Womble says Brown's vehicle was considered a deadly weapon.
"Mr. Brown's actions caused three deputies with the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office to reasonably believe it was necessary to protect themselves and others," said Womble.
Womble says the shooting was justified due to Brown's actions and the deputies involved had no prior complaints. Womble says officers in unmarked cars across the street were put at risk by Brown’s fleeing car. No officer involved in the shooting death will be charged.
Deputies clearly continued to shoot at Brown as he was driving away. Womble says that too is justified. "Once a threat is perceived, and our case law is very clear on this, a threat is perceived and the officers fire the first shot - if the first shot is justified, the last shot is justified until the threat is extinguished," said Womble.
Many in the community have questioned why the deputies couldn't just let Brown go at the time and attempt to arrest him again later.
"The officers' duties were to take Mr. Brown into custody. They simply could not let him go," said Womble.
Womble says the recent details that weren't released before are due to wanting to keep the integrity of the case and said he understands frustrations from the public and media. He says that citizens should not jump to conclusions until all facts are out.
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II released the following statement after Womble's press conference:
Despite Womble showing clips of the body cam footage to the media during Tuesday's briefing, Womble says the rest of the video will need to go through the courts for release to the public.
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein responded to the briefing, saying he believes "it is critically important to release the full body camera footage to the public."
Andrew Brown Jr.’s family and many people in Elizabeth City and beyond continue to grieve, and I extend my deepest sympathy to them.— Josh Stein (@JoshStein_) May 18, 2021
I continue to believe it is critically important to release the full body camera footage to the public. 1/
The trust in our criminal justice system that is currently fractured will only be more difficult to repair w/o complete transparency. Now that the investigation has concluded, it is imperative that the court authorize the release of the full video to the public immediately. 2/2— Josh Stein (@JoshStein_) May 18, 2021
Monday, the Pasquotank NAACP demanded the resignation of Sheriff Wooten and the firing of the deputies involved in Brown's death.