Fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. was ‘justified,’ state investigation finds

A state investigation into the fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr., has found that North Carolina sheriff’s deputies were justified in their actions, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Brown, 42, was shot on April 21 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, when Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies were attempting to serve him with an arrest warrant. The deputies shot Brown five times, including once in the back of his head, according to an independent autopsy commissioned by his family.

At a news conference Tuesday, District Attorney Andrew Womble said no officer would be criminally charged. The State Bureau of Investigation found Brown “drove recklessly and endangered the officers” and “used his vehicle as a deadly weapon” while attempting to resist arrest, he said.

“Mr. Brown’s death, while tragic, was justified,” Womble said.

“His actions caused the three deputies to reasonably believe it was necessary to use deadly force to protect themselves and others,” he added.

The DA showed photos and clips from four body camera videos as officers surrounded Brown’s car, the first time the footage had been showed publicly. Previously, a judge ruled the footage would not be released to the public but that the family could view short clips of the footage.

Womble said Brown began reversing his car when deputies approached him on April 21. Womble said one of the deputy’s hands was on the hood of the car, and officers shouted for Brown to stop the car but “Brown ignored officers’ demands.” He said the deputy had to take “evasive action” to get out of the way of the front left tire.

As deputies surrounded the vehicle, Brown’s car accelerated forward toward a deputy, Womble said. “Brown ignored the commands and drove directly at (the deputy),” he added.

This is when the first shot was fired and entered through the front window of Brown’s car, Womble said. He said Brown’s car then continued forward, and several shots were fired with one entering the passenger window and striking Brown in the shoulder. Several more entered through the rear passenger’s door and window.

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The three deputies involved have been on leave while four others who were at the scene have been reinstated after police said they didn’t fire their weapons.

Despite pressure and outrage from the public, a judge ruled last month that the body camera footage would not be immediately released to the public. The court ruling limited the family to seeing less than 20 minutes of more than two hours of video of the incident. It also ordered the deputies’ faces to be redacted.

Brown’s family and police have disputed what the video shows.

Earlier in May, lawyers for Brown’s family called the deputies “unequivocally unjustified,” saying Brown was not armed and did not drive toward deputies or pose a threat.

The shooting came just one day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on all charges in the murder of George Floyd, prompting protests demanding transparency and the release of body camera footage in Elizabeth City.

Contributing: Christal Hayes, USA TODAY; Associated Press

Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at cfernando@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern

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