(ELIZABETH CITY, N.C.) — No charges will be filed against North Carolina sheriff’s deputies who shot and killed Andrew Brown Jr., a 42-year-old Black man whose family claims he was “executed” as he sat in his car.
Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble said at a news conference on Tuesday morning that the three deputies who opened fire on Brown, a father of seven, were justified in their use of deadly force because Brown drove his vehicle toward them and allegedly made contact with them twice before they fired their weapons.
Womble said he made his decision based on the results of an investigation by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
“Mr. Brown’s death, while tragic, was justified, because Mr. Brown’s actions caused three deputies with the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office to reasonably believe it was necessary to use deadly force to protect themselves and others,” Womble said.
The shooting unfolded at about 8:30 a.m. on April 21 when deputies from Pasquotank and Dare Counties went to Brown’s home to attempt to serve two arrest warrants on Brown and a search warrant for Brown’s home in connection with a felony drug investigation, officials said.
Womble said an autopsy showed Brown was shot twice, once in the shoulder and once in the back of the head.
Brown’s family and their attorneys commissioned an independent autopsy they say shows he was shot five times, including once in the back of the head.
Seven Pasquotank deputies involved in the episode were initially placed on administrative leave, but four of them were allowed to return to duty after it was determined they did not fire shots at Brown, officials said.
The three deputies who opened fire on Brown were identified by Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten as Investigator Daniel Meads, Deputy Sheriff II Robert Morgan and Cpl. Aaron Lewellyn. Meads and Morgan have each been with the sheriff’s office for more than five years, and Lewellyn has served over two years.
Womble said the officers fired a total of 14 shots after Brown allegedly used his car as a deadly weapon.
The district attorney released four body camera videos of the shooting that showed deputies arriving at Brown’s home in a marked sheriff’s office pickup truck, quickly surrounding Brown’s BMW and ordering him to show his hands. The videos showed Brown’s car go in reverse and then move forward toward at least one deputy, who fired a shot through the front windshield.
The footage showed Brown’s car continue across a grassy lawn as deputies fired at the rear and side of the vehicle. Brown’s car came to a stop when it crashed into a tree.
Womble said deputies immediately removed Brown from the vehicle and began performing first aid while at the same time calling for paramedics.
He said deputies found a plastic baggie the size of a 50 cent piece inside Brown’s mouth that contained a substance that is consistent with crystal methamphetamine.
“The facts of this case clearly illustrate the officers who used deadly force on Andrew Brown Jr. did so reasonably and only when a violent felon used a deadly weapon to place their lives in danger,” Womble said.
On April 26, Brown’s family, including one of his sons, Khalil Ferebee, and one of the family’s attorneys, were shown a 20-second clip from the body camera of one of the deputies involved in executing the search warrant. Ferebee said the footage shows his father, who did not have a weapon on him, being “executed” as he attempted to drive away to save his own life.
Ferebee and his relatives were shown another 18 minutes of body camera video of the shooting last week and said it did not change their opinion that Brown’s death was not justified.
The body camera videos have not been made public.
Brown’s shooting prompted days of protests in Elizabeth City calling for the deputies to be criminally charged.
The FBI launched a civil rights probe on April 27 into Brown’s death. It is ongoing. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has also called for a special prosecutor to handle the case “in the interest of justice and confidence in the judicial system.”
The shooting came a day after a jury in Minneapolis convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man.
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