Attorneys for the family of a North Carolina man who was killed by law enforcement officers have asked the district’s top law enforcement officer to recuse himself from investigating and charging his coworkers because...did you even read the sentence?
Lawyers representing the family of Andrew Brown Jr., who was slain by Pasquotank County, N.C., sheriff’s deputies on April 21, have requested that District Attorney Andrew Womble step away from the case, due to a conflict of interest. “It has become apparent that a conflict has arisen that precludes your office from investigating and prosecuting this case without inherent bias,” said a letter to Womble, from Brown family attorneys Bakari Sellers, Benjamin Crump, Chantel Cherry-Lassiter and Wayne Kendall.
Womble and Brown’s family have repeatedly butted heads ever since deputies put a bullet in Brown’s skull during a botched attempt to serve a warrant. The prosecutor, the sheriff’s department and a district court judge have refused numerous requests for access to the body camera footage of the deadly incident. Attorneys note that the professional relationship between the prosecutor and the sheriff’s department clearly warrants a recusal.
“You and your office not only work with Sheriff Wooten and his deputies daily,” the letter continues. “Your office physically resides in the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Department. The conflict is well-defined.”
Brown, 46, was ambushed by deputies on April 21 as they served a search warrant for his Elizabeth City, N.C., home. The officers shot Brown in his car at least five times while his hands were on the steering wheel, according to attorneys who viewed a snippet of the footage. Protesters have called for transparency and the release of body camera footage. A district court judge denied a media request for the videos but promised Brown’s family that they could see it in private.
Seven deputies involved in the shooting were placed on leave, while another two have resigned and one retired, according to Sheriff Tommy Wooten. All but three—Investigator Daniel Meads, Deputy Robert Morgan, and Corporal Aaron Lewellyn—have been allowed back on duty. Authorities say they are the officers responsible for shooting Brown, although they have not been charged with a crime or cleared of wrongdoing.
Just a reminder, district attorneys are considered law enforcement officers and are supposed to be independent entities. Fewer than one percent of police officers are criminally charged with a fatal shooting. In the more than 15,000 fatal shootings over the last 15 years, seven police officers have been convicted of murder in the last 15 years.