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Pasquotank County leaders call for body cam video law change following Andrew Brown Jr. death

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Posted at 10:49 PM, May 06, 2021

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. – The small but mighty joined the chorus of voices that have been filling the streets of Elizabeth City for more than two weeks.

A young girl and her brother led the demonstration, chanting, “Say his name: Andrew Brown,” and, “No justice. No peace.”

Demonstrators have marched every day since Andrew Brown Jr. was shot and killed on April 21 by Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies.

“It’s not just hope now; this has become more like a movement,” said protester Deshawn Morris, who lives in Elizabeth City.

The curfew in the city and county was lifted Thursday morning, but police stood at the ready as demonstrators continued their calls to release body cam video from the day Brown’s family attorneys say he was shot in the back of the head.

Their cries for transparency have bent the ear of the county board of commissioners.

“Over the past 16 days, we have heard the calls, the chants, the emails, watched the protest rallies; we're listening,” said Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners Chairman Lloyd Griffin.

During a special meeting via Zoom Thursday, the board voted to draft a resolution to change North Carolina’s body camera video law, which states footage can only be released after a court order.

“The purpose of this meeting is to discuss as pertains to the county’s response to the current state of emergency by considering a resolution, asking the North Carolina General Assembly to consider revisions to the body camera law to improve transparency and ensure that the cloud of suspicion and rapid speculation that has descended upon our community will never occur again,” Griffin said. “Justice done right takes time and would be irresponsible for all parties if the law is not followed. We believe in this case that we best to release the footage.”

The resolution comes after Chairman Griffin sent a statement on April 25 calling out “some people,” without mentioning names and accusing them for trying to rush an investigation to “score political points or become cable news celebrities.”

Protest organizer Kirk Rivers said neither the community nor the Brown family have heard from the BOE since Brown’s shooting death.

“You don't have to disclose information that will be detrimental to the case, but you can still be transparent and talk to people - just say, 'I don't know,' but they have been missing in action,” Rivers said.

Sheriff Tommy Wooten has supported the immediate release of the body cam video to the public. During the special BOE meeting, he said he’d advocate changing the law.

“I wanted the body camera footage to be released to the public quickly to provide facts instead of rumors,” Wooten said. “That’s why I went to court to try to get it released. I didn’t get what I wanted in court, but I do respect the judge’s ruling.”

In the meantime, demonstrators say they’ll keep marching until they see action, not just words.

“What I hope is everybody just continuously be strong and bring awareness to the situation that we have that's plaguing the city,” said Deshawn Morris. “No matter how small the city is, it's still our city.”