The shooting death of a North Carolina man at the hands of police will not result in charges against the police, according to a district attorney investigating the death of Andrew Brown.
Brown, 42, who is black, was killed on April 21 in Elizabeth City while Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies were trying to arrest him on felony drug charges.
“My dad got executed just trying to save his own life,” Khalil Ferebee, Brown’s son, said last month after viewing 20 seconds of bodycam footage, according to NBC News.
“It ain’t right,” he said. “It ain’t right at all.”
But District Attorney Andrew Womble said Brown’s death, “while tragic,” was “justified due to his actions,” NBC News reported Tuesday.
Womble released bodycam footage of the incident that shows police trying to surround the car Brown was driving.
When confronted by police, Brown sought to back up the car and drive around the officers, who were shouting at him to stop. One officer was in front of the car as Brown drove forward and moved to avoid being struck by the vehicle.
Officers fired as Brown drove off and continued firing as the car drove across a lawn until it hit a tree and stopped.
WARNING: The following video contains graphic violence and vulgar language that some viewers may find offensive.
“No officers will be criminally charged,” Womble said. “The officers’ actions were consistent with their training and fully supported under law.”
Womble said deputies were confronted with the use of the car as a weapon.
“The deputies faced both actual and apparent danger as perceived by them on the scene,” Womble said. “This apparent threat was reinforced by Brown’s dangerous and felonious use of a deadly weapon. As tragic as this incident is with the loss of life, the deputies on scene were nonetheless justified in defending themselves from death or great bodily injury.”
Brown’s family rejected the DA’s argument.
“Andrew Brown Jr., his grieving family, and this community deserve answers,” the family statement said, according to NBC News.
“And they received anything but from D.A. Womble’s attempt to whitewash this unjustified killing,” the statement said. “To say this shooting was justified, despite the known facts, is both an insult and a slap in the face to Andrew’s family, the Elizabeth City community, and to rational people everywhere.”
The decision drew criticism on Twitter from those who argued that regardless of what the video showed, the police were wrong.
When they say the “war on drugs,” apparently they mean literal war. War like it’s Mogadishu in the ‘90s or Baghdad when we invaded in 2003. This is repulsive. Is this the way we want to live???
— Joy-Ann ?Reid (@JoyAnnReid) May 18, 2021
#AndrewBrown was not using his vehicle as a weapon. The “contact” was minimal at best & initiated by officers.
He was beyond law enforcement when multiple shots were fired, including kill shot to the back of head.
4 officers didn’t shoot, didn’t feel life was in danger.
— Bakari Sellers (@Bakari_Sellers) May 18, 2021
Although one of the five shots that struck Brown was one to the back of the head, Womble said under the law, deputies had cause to fire until there was no longer a threat.
“Once 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,” he said.
Sheriff Tommy Wooten said the three deputies who fired a total of 14 shots at Brown would remain with the department but all those who participated in the incident would face disciplinary proceedings.
Two deputies did not turn on their bodycams, he said in a statement. Further, no medical team was ready in case needed, Wooten said.
“While the DA concluded that no criminal law was violated, this was a terrible and tragic outcome and we could do better,” he said. “This should not have happened this way at all. While the deputies did not break the law, we all wish things could have gone different, much differently.”
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