Pasquotank Co. Sheriff's Office will no longer assist police during daily protests, sheriff says

Decision comes 2 months after fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr.
Andrew Brown protest (April 27).jpg
Protesters gather after Sheriff Wooten's announcement
Posted at 3:59 PM, Jun 23, 2021

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. - Two months after Andrew Brown Jr. was fatally shot by deputies, the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office will no longer assist the city or the Elizabeth City Police Department with daily protests.

In a statement released Wednesday, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten said after months of working alongside police during daily protests in the city, the sheriff's office will resume normal operations.

This will go into effect starting Saturday, June 26. Wooten said he has notified Police Chief Eddie Buffaloe of the decision and said the sheriff's office will "continue to support police during major events and other situations associated with law enforcement associated with law enforcement and overall public safety."

In explaining his reasoning behind the decision, the sheriff said the city's "continued issuance of permits... [has] allowed and encouraged daily protests by a very small group of our community to hinder the lives of our citizens." He added that while the First Amendment allows people to peacefully protest, "it does not provide the right to block roadways nor does it provide the right to a law enforcement escort."

The morning of April 21 when Brown was killed, deputies were serving a warrant on felony drug charges. Since the incident, District Attorney Andrew Womble said after reviewing the investigation, Brown’s death was justified. Womble said Brown’s actions made it reasonable for deputies to use deadly force.

Since Brown's death, protesters have taken to the streets of Elizabeth City, calling for justice and for the release of the body camera footage of the shooting.

One protester told News 3 Wednesday that deputies should continue to be present at protests.

"That boy dead because of them, so they should be out here riding around. So, it’s not right," said protester Vanessa Spellman.

Other protesters feel differently.

"Personally, no, I don’t want to see them out here because they murdered Andrew Brown and our city. I don’t want to see their freaking faces," said Andrea Rovenski.

Elizabeth City Councilman Michael Brooks believes Sheriff Wooten’s statement sends a strong message.

"I think that’s another slap in the face. They basically say, 'We caused it. We’re not going to take any more money out of our pocket to protect the citizens that’s marching.' They have a right to protest. I think that’s a double whammy of an injustice."

Click here to read Sheriff Wooten's full statement.