Attorneys for a North Carolina man killed by police say an autopsy and newly obtained footage confirms that he was ambushed by local deputies before being struck by five bullets, the final one piercing the back of his head. Meanwhile, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened an inquiry into whether federal laws were broken as protesters seek accountability and transparency.
During an exclusive interview with The Root, the legal team representing the family of Andrew Brown Jr. described the contents of a video that reportedly shows Brown’s death. Additionally, an autopsy of Brown—who was shot and killed while Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies were serving a search and arrest warrant on Wednesday, April 21—reportedly shows that Brown suffered four glancing gunshot wounds to the arm before succumbing to a final “kill shot” to the base of his skull from intermediate range as he sat in his car with his hands on the steering wheel.
On Tuesday, the Brown family lawyers gained access to footage from a city-owned camera mounted near the home where Brown was killed. While Brown’s car is not visible on the recording, the footage reportedly shows a vehicle carrying eight to 10 deputies approaching the residence. As the vehicle approaches Brown’s house, the officers spot Brown, already in his car.
“Eerily reminiscent of the ‘jump-out boys’ you see in major cities, they get out of the car, and just start shooting,” recounted Bakari Sellers, one of the attorneys representing the Brown family. “We were pretty upset yesterday when we were only allowed to view 20 seconds of video. But after seeing this, the entire encounter was, maybe, only 30 seconds total.”
Sellers explained that the 46-year-old victim barely had time to surrender himself before high-powered assault rifles pierced his car and windshield. Sellers also pointed out that law enforcement agencies routinely allow whiter suspects to turn themselves in when judges issue arrest warrants. But in this case, however, officers decided to go with the tried-and-true bullet notification strategy.
Deputies later found bullets had penetrated the house, interior walls and eventually landed in the kitchen of Brown’s residence. Despite the initial injuries, Brown was still able to maneuver his car to avoid the deputies until a final bullet from an “intermediate range” caused him to crash into a tree as the gunshots continued. During a press conference, attorney Ben Crump said an independent autopsy from Dr. Brent Hall confirmed the manner of death listed on the death certificate as homicide caused by a “penetrating gunshot wound to the head.”
Meanwhile, the FBI has gotten involved, CNN reports:
The FBI’s Charlotte field office confirmed they have opened a federal civil rights investigation into last week’s police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr., according to an FBI spokesperson.
“Agents will work closely with the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina and the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice to determine whether federal laws were violated. As this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further,” the statement says.
City and county leaders have issued an 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. curfew as residents continue to pressure local officials to release all of the body camera footage from the officers at the scene. On Monday evening, protesters gathered outside the Elizabeth City home of Pasquotank County Attorney R. Michael Cox, who has already declared that he “will not be fucking bullied.”
In a video statement, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten said seven deputies are on leave pending a probe by the State Bureau of Investigation, noting that a judge has to authorize the release of police video.
Too bad they don’t have to authorize the release of bullets.