ELIZABETH CITY, NC – According to North Carolina District Attorney Andrew Womble, the shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. at the hands of Pasquotank sheriff’s deputies was “tragic” but “justified,” based on several officers’ bodycam footage, reports say.
No law enforcement officers will be facing any criminal charges in connection with the shooting, Womble said during a press conference held Tuesday, noting that “Brown’s actions caused deputies to reasonably believe it necessary to use force to protect themselves and others.”
Brown, 42, was shot while behind the wheel of his car on April 21 in Elizabeth City as deputies were attempting to serve a warrant for his arrest on felony drug charges.
Footage from four bodycams were played at the press conference, showing Brown ignoring commands from deputies and driving his car directly at them, using his vehicle to commit assault with a deadly weapon, Womble said.
Attorneys for Brown’s family had previously argued that Brown was “unarmed” and that he did not drive toward officers, nor did he pose a threat to them; Womble had countered by saying that Brown had actually struck deputies with his car twice before they opened fire.
Brown was subsequently shot at by three Pasquotank deputies, with the first shot going through the front windshield, contrary to previous reports that put all shots through the rear windshield.
An autopsy commissioned by Brown’s family said that he was shot five times – once in the back of the head and four times in the arm – which matched up with the state’s death certificate, which stated that Brown’s cause of death was a “penetrating gunshot wound of the head.”
Brown’s death kicked off weeks of protests, with demonstrators calling for the public release of the bodycam footage. Brown’s family were initially shown the footage, but a judge ruled to delay the release of the footage to the public for at least 30 days – if not longer – so as to not interfere with the investigation carried out by North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation.
The FBI are also conducting a civil rights investigation into the shooting.