Prosecutor says deputies’ fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. justified

Published 11:34 am Tuesday, May 18, 2021

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By Ben Finley, Associated Press

North Carolina sheriff’s deputies were justified in their fatal shooting of a black man in April, a district attorney said Tuesday.

District Attorney Andrew Womble said Andrew Brown Jr.’s actions caused deputies to believe it was necessary to use deadly force. Brown ignored deputies’ commands to stop and began to drive his car directly at one of the officers, Womble told a news conference.

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He said the first shot fired at Brown’s car went through the front windshield, not the back as was previously reported.

Deputies attempting to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants shot and killed Brown outside his Elizabeth City home on April 21. Three deputies involved in the shooting remain on leave, while four others who were at the scene were reinstated after the sheriff said they didn’t fire their weapons.

An independent autopsy released by the family found that Brown was hit by bullets five times, including once in the back of the head. Lawyers for Brown’s family who watched body camera footage say that it shows Brown was not armed and that he didn’t drive toward deputies or pose a threat to them. Womble has previously disagreed in court, saying that Brown struck deputies twice with his car before any shots were fired.

The sheriff has said his deputies weren’t injured.

The shooting sparked protests over multiple weeks by demonstrators calling for the public release of body camera footage. While authorities have shown footage to Brown’s family, a judge refused to release the video publicly pending the state investigation.

Separately, the FBI has launched a civil rights probe of the shooting.