A judge on Wednesday denied requests to release body camera video in the case of a black man who was shot to death by North Carolina agents as they tried to arrest him on drug-related warrants.
Judge Jeffery Foster said he believed the videos contained information that could damage the investigation or threaten the safety of the people seen in the images. He said the video must remain out of public view for at least 30 days.
“Release at this time would create a serious threat to the fair, impartial and orderly administration of justice,” said Foster.
However, he said, videos from multiple body cameras and a dash cam must be shown to Andrew Brown Jr’s family within 10 days. He said that some parts of the video may be blurred or redacted, including conversations between officers. The family previously viewed only a 20-second portion of body camera video.
The decision was made shortly after a North Carolina prosecutor said Brown had hit law enforcement officers with his car before they opened fire.
District Attorney Andrew Womble told the judge that he saw the body camera video and disagreed with a characterization by Brown’s family attorneys that their car was stationary when the shooting began. Womble said the video shows Brown’s car made contact with police twice before gunshots could be heard in the video.
Womble said officers yelled orders and tried to open the car before they shot themselves.
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II has previously indicated that none of the officers were injured. At a press conference hours after the shooting, he said “They’re fine” when asked by officers.
The hearing came amid pressure on authorities to release the video and a special prosecutor is asked to take over the state’s case before Womble. The judge said he planned to issue a decision on Wednesday after a short recess.
On Tuesday, Brown’s family released a separate autopsy showing he was shot five times, including in the back of the head.
The FBI field office in Charlotte, which opened the civil rights investigation into Brown’s death, said in a statement Tuesday that its agents planned to work closely with the Justice Department “to determine whether federal laws were violated. “.
Brown was shot last Wednesday by agents serving drug-related search and arrest warrants at his home in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, about 160 miles northeast of Raleigh.
The autopsy results come a day after Brown’s relatives were shown the 20-second video.
One of the Brown family’s attorneys, Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, who saw the video, said Monday that shots had been heard from the moment the clip began with Brown’s car in his driveway and his hands on it. steering wheel. She said the video showed Brown trying to drive away but not posing a threat to officers after they ran to his car and started shooting.
“He finally decides to try to escape and backs down, not towards the officers,” he told reporters Monday.
The state investigation office began investigating the shooting shortly after it happened. He initially said he would turn over his findings to the local district attorney, as is standard in state laws and procedures.
But the governor, a Democrat, urged the appointment of a special counsel to handle the state’s case.
“This would help assure the community and Mr. Brown’s family that the decision to file criminal charges is made without prejudice,” Cooper said in a statement.
State Attorney General Josh Stein said state law puts control of criminal prosecutions in the hands of the local district attorney, so his office cannot intervene unless requested. He said he has offered assistance to the local prosecutor, but has only received one recognition.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism