A North Carolina judge has ruled that publicly owned footage of public employees killing a member of the public cannot be released to the public, citing stuff and things. Meanwhile, the district attorney fought the request from a coalition of media outlets by showing exactly why it should be released.
On Wednesday, North Carolina Superior Court Judge Jeffery B. Foster (you might want to remember that name for a few minutes) denied a media lawsuit demanding the release of body camera footage showing Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Department deputies shooting and killing 46-year-old Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City, N.C., on April 21. Judge Foster did, however, grant a petition allowing Brown’s family and one member of his legal team to privately view the videos of what family attorneys previously described as an “execution.”
During the hearing, District Attorney Andrew Womble disputed that claim with a claim of his own—namely that Brown’s car made contact with the deputies at the scene. Although the sheriff’s office and members of the Brown family’s legal team both told The Root that no law enforcement officers were injured when they riddled Brown’s body with bullets from high-powered weapons as he sat with his hands on the steering wheel, there’s probably no way to clear this up.
Although attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said she didn’t see it happen in the 20-second clip of the incident that she was allowed to watch, Womble insists that Brown’s car moved forward and backward before a cop stopped Brown with a “kill shot” to the back of the head. If only there was some kind of definitive, objective way the two parties could clear up this disagreement. Anyway...
Foster (the judge...Don’t forget) also ruled that Brown’s son and one legal representative will be allowed to view all of the video evidence. Foster gave the sheriff’s department time to redact the faces, badges and identities of the deputies who shot the man before they gave him a hearing or a trial. Brown’s family will not be able to make copies or recordings of the video.
An attorney for the deputies who have not been charged with killing Brown said his clients are “distraught” about killing Brown. However, the representatives of the officers who didn’t give Andrew Brown Jr. a fair trial now fear that they won’t get a fair trial if the videos are made public, noting that the deputies have the right to the presumption of innocence. “We believe the shooting was justified,” they said unironically, according to the Virginian-Pilot.
A look at Judge Jeff Foster’s social media portended the ruling. The right-wing, mask-resistant judge seems to be a big fan of the “thin blue line,” anyone who shoots a Black person and police in general. However, Foster doesn’t seem to have much affection for Muslims, protesters or the media in general.
Meanwhile, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has called for a special prosecutor to handle all matters regarding the shooting.
“This would help assure the community and Mr. Brown’s family that a decision on pursuing criminal charges is conducted without bias,” Cooper said in a press statement. “This position is consistent with the change in the law recommended by our Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice which calls for a special prosecutor in police shootings.
It’s almost like he doesn’t believe the judges and the police are unbiased. I wonder what makes him think that?