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District Attorney Andrew Womble of Elizabeth City, North Carolina said Tuesday that the three deputies who fatally shot 42-year-old Black man and father of seven Andrew Brown Jr. were justified in their actions.
Womble said Brown drove his vehicle toward officers and allegedly made contact with them twice before they started shooting, following an investigation by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, according to ABC News. He claimed Brown ignored deputies’ commands to stop his vehicle.
Police fatally shot Brown outside his Elizabeth City home on April 21 while reportedly serving search and arrest warrants in relation to drugs. Three deputies remain on leave over the shooting: Investigator Daniel Meads, Deputy Sheriff II Robert Morgan, and Cpl. Aaron Lewellyn. An independent autopsy showed that Brown was shot five times, including once in the back of his head.
Brown’s family lawyers said after watching bodycam footage that Andrew did not pose a threat, was unarmed, and did not drive toward the officers.
“We were able to see some critical footage that yields some truth and transparency to what we thought we would see from the beginning,” lawyer Chance Lynch said previously. “It was absolutely, unequivocally unjustified. Our legal team is more committed now to pursue justice...because what we saw today was unconstitutional and it was unjustifiable.”
The news comes weeks after community leaders and family members demanded authorities release the footage for the public to see what happened to Brown. Eventually, a judge gave Brown’s family access to the footage, but refused to release it to the public pending the North Carolina investigation.