Elizabeth City Mayor Declares State of Emergency Ahead Of Body Cam Video Release In Andrew Brown Jr. Case
Updated at 9:57 a.m. | April 26, 2021
The mayor of Elizabeth City has declared a state of emergency as the community braces for the potential release of body cam footage from the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. by sheriff's deputies last week.
Multiple media outlets are reporting that Brown's family is expected to see the video this morning.
City officials are filing a formal request calling on the Pasquotank County Sheriff to seek a court order for the video to be made public. Sheriff Tommy Wooten has indicated he will ask a judge for that as early as today. The mayor's emergency declaration suggests the release could be imminent and civil unrest could follow.
Elizabeth City has seen daily protests since deputies fatally shot Brown, a 42-year-old Black man, while carrying out search and arrest warrants last Wednesday.
In a Facebook video posted Saturday afternoon, Wooten II said his office wants the body camera footage related to the killing of Andrew Brown Jr. to be made public.
“I’ve asked the State Bureau of Investigation to confirm for me that the releasing of the video will not undermine their investigation,” said Wooten. “Once I get that confirmation, our county will file a motion in court, hopefully Monday, to have the footage released.”
In the Facebook video, Pasquotank Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg said their office has called on the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association to appoint an outside sheriff’s office to conduct an investigation of all individuals who were involved in the incident.
Local NAACP President Calls For Resignation Of County Sheriff
At a media event Saturday afternoon at Mt. Lebanon A.M.E. Zion Church in Elizabeth City, Rev. William Barber — along with Andrew Brown Jr.’s family, activists, clergy, and members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — addressed the events surrounding Brown’s killing.
"A warrant is not a license to kill,” said Barber as he repeatedly called for the release of the body camera footage.
Local Pasquotank NAACP President Keith Rivers said his group is “demanding the resignation of Pasquotank Sheriff Wooten."
Rivers' statement came minutes before Wooten posted the Facebook video supporting the release of body camera footage. Wooten has not addressed the media or residents in-person since the killing of Brown.
Elizabeth City Mayor Wants Change To NC’s Body Camera Law
Earlier Saturday morning, Elizabeth City Mayor Bettie Parker made it clear she wants to see a major change in how police body camera footage is processed and released in North Carolina.
As they stood outside of city hall Saturday, Elizabeth City officials emphasized they have not yet seen or had access to the footage.
Under North Carolina law, a judge must generally sign off on the release of law enforcement body camera footage. Leaders of Elizabeth City have demanded the release of the footage, and a coalition of media filed a petition in court to make it public. Governor Roy Cooper has also issued a statement calling for the swift release of the footage.
When asked by WUNC what change she would like to see, Parker answered: “the law.”
Parker said the city council has submitted a requisition to the county sheriff’s office for the release of the footage. If denied, she said the request would go to the state district attorney’s office and finally to a court.
“This doesn’t make sense. We have to wait forever to get the body cam. Twenty-four hours to forty-eight hours is enough. So let’s change this,” said Parker. "I want to see it change as quickly as possible."
Parker said the city’s attorney has told city officials “that more than likely we will not get it.”
At the press conference, city officials emphasized that they want to see transparency and accountability in the events around Brown’s death.
City Police Chief Eddie Buffaloe said city police were not involved in the warrants for Brown, or the events around serving the warrants.