“Let’s be clear, this was an execution,” Crump said.
The shooting in Elizabeth City came at a critical moment for policing in America: one day after Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was fatally shot during an altercation in Columbus, Ohio. Brown’s death triggered peaceful demonstrations by hundreds of people over several nights. Officials delayed when the family members could watch the video, attributing the wait to redactions to “protect an active internal investigation,” according to County Attorney R. Michael Cox.
It is unclear when the video of the shooting will be made public by a judge. The Washington Post is part of a coalition of newsrooms that have filed a request with the court to get the video released.
In anticipation of a potential “period of unrest” following the release of the video, Mayor Bettie Parker declared a state of emergency for Elizabeth City, the county seat, on Monday morning.
Before the family was able to watch the video, Harry Daniels, an attorney for the victim’s family, told The Post that they had learned “it was a very disturbing, unjustified shooting.”
The Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office has shared little about how deputies killed Brown while they were executing a search warrant and an arrest warrant on felony drug charges at his home. Seven deputies at the scene, who have yet to be named, have since been placed on administrative leave.
Sheriff Tommy Wooten said in a video statement that deputies fired at Brown when authorities tried to serve the warrant but did not say more about if Brown was complying or fleeing.
“What I will say is that if evidence shows that any of my deputies violate the law or policies, they will be held accountable,” Wooten said.
Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg said in the same statement Thursday that the issue at stake was whether the deputies had reason to believe Brown’s actions put them at risk “for serious injury or death” and added Brown was “a convicted felon with a history of resisting arrest.” Court records show Brown had been previously convicted of misdemeanor drug possession and had pending drug charges.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the details surrounding Brown’s death. Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble said the investigation would provide “accurate answers and not fast answers.”
At around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, the sheriff’s office said, deputies arrived at the 400 block of Perry Street to execute an arrest warrant for Brown in Elizabeth City, located about 45 miles south of Norfolk.
Those who watched the encounter told local media that Brown got into his car and started to drive away from law enforcement. That’s when, neighbors say, the sheriff’s deputies started shooting at Brown, firing off six to eight shots. The News & Observer newspaper said that one neighbor said she found 14 shell casings. Daniels told The Post that it remained unclear whether Brown was shot at from outside his car. He added that all three deputies fired their guns.
Police have yet to release any information about whether Brown was unarmed.
Neighbor Demetria Williams told the Associated Press that Brown’s car skidded from his yard and hit a tree. She told WITN that the deputies tried to resuscitate Brown after the shooting but that it was too late.
“When they opened the door, he was slumped over already,” Williams said, adding that Brown “wasn’t a threat.”
“I knew he was gone,” Williams said.
When authorities removed Brown’s vehicle, the car was riddled with multiple bullet holes and had a broken rear windshield, AP reported.