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Family Permitted To See 20 Seconds Of Bodycam Video From Shooting Of Andrew Brown Jr.


Police shot dead a Black man in Elizabeth City, N.C., last week, just a day after a former policeman in Minneapolis was convicted of murdering George Floyd. Sheriff's deputies were serving an arrest warrant on Andrew Brown Jr. when they killed him. Today, the Brown family was permitted to see a snippet of the bodycam video of the killing. An attorney for the Brown family, Bakari Sellers, described what they saw.


BAKARI SELLERS: One bodycam, 20 seconds and an execution - and so with all due respect, I know there were a lot of people who thought last week's verdict was justice. And I told you then it wasn't justice because we still can't get justice and accountability today. I'm only going to be brief because I'm hot right now.


KELLY: NPR's Sarah McCammon is following this story.

Hey, Sarah.


KELLY: What do we know about what is in this bodycam video?

MCCAMMON: Well, after viewing that piece of video today, attorneys for Brown's family say his hands were on his steering wheel while Pasquotank County sheriff's deputies were shooting at him with assault-style rifles last Wednesday morning. They say he was trying to back out of his driveway, but he was avoiding officers. And they say he was not putting law enforcement in danger, but law enforcement shot anyway. Here's Brown's son, Khalil Ferebee, addressing reporters after he saw that footage today.


KHALIL FEREBEE: It's like we against all odds in this world. My dad got executed just by trying to save his own life. You know, he was not in no - the officers was not in no harm of him at all.

MCCAMMON: One attorney for the family told reporters today that during the 20-second clip, she saw officers shot more times than she could count. And the family's very distressed that they've only been shown 20 seconds of footage from a single bodycam, they say. And they say there were several officers present, and they want to see the rest of that footage.

KELLY: All right. And what are county officials, what are law enforcement officials saying?

MCCAMMON: Well, the county attorney, Michael Cox, issued a statement earlier today saying that the county was in the process of blurring faces in the video as allowed by North Carolina state law. The law that he cited essentially says that evidence from these kinds of investigations is not public record, and the implication seems to be that the county has the discretion to decide what it releases. Now, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten has repeatedly promised transparency, but he hasn't provided a lot of detail. He says state law requires him to have a court order before he can release the footage to the public, and he says he is asking for a court order. Regardless, attorneys for Andrew Brown's family say they believe that authorities are hiding something.

KELLY: Sarah, I know you've spent time reporting in Elizabeth City in recent days. What are you hearing from people there?

MCCAMMON: Well, protests have continued every day since last Wednesday, when Andrew Brown was killed - people marching through the streets asking for more police accountability, less aggressive policing of Black Americans. So far, those have been peaceful protests, but officials are clearly concerned that won't continue to be the case. Today, the city declared a state of emergency in anticipation of this video potentially coming out. And protesters say they will continue to demonstrate until they get the answers they're looking for.

KELLY: And just briefly, where does the investigation into Andrew Brown's death go next?

MCCAMMON: Well, that state investigation into the shooting continues. Sheriff Wooten is promising that if any deputies are found to have violated laws or policies, they'll be held accountable. Seven are on administrative leave right now. And tomorrow, the family says they will release details from an independent autopsy they've commissioned, so we may know more then.

KELLY: NPR's Sarah McCammon, thank you.

MCCAMMON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.
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