ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. — A judge has denied requests to release body camera video in the case of Andrew Brown Jr., who was shot and killed by Pasquotank County deputies a week ago. The judge ordered that the footage may be shown to Brown's son and attorney.
The decision came Wednesday shortly after a North Carolina prosecutor said that Brown had hit law enforcement officers with his car before they opened fire.
What You Need To Know
- Judge Jeffery Foster denied media petition to release body cam video to public
- Protesters have been demanding public release of unredacted video
- Judge ordered video to be shown to Brown's son and attorney
- Pasquotank district attorney said video shows Brown's car made contact with deputies before shots fired
Judge Jeffery Foster said he believed the videos contained information that could harm the ongoing investigation or threaten the safety of people seen in the footage. He said the video must remain out of public view for at least 30 days.
“The release at this time would create a serious threat to the fair, impartial and orderly administration of justice,” Foster said.
However, he said, videos from multiple body cameras and one dashboard camera must be shown to Brown’s family within 10 days. He said some portions of the video may be blurred or redacted, including conversations between officers. The family previously saw only a 20-second portion of one body camera video.
District Attorney Andrew Womble said he viewed body camera video and disagreed with a characterization by attorneys for Brown’s family that his car was stationary when the shooting started.
Calling the family attorney's description “patently false,” Womble said the video shows that Brown’s car made contact with law enforcement twice before shots could be heard on the video.
Protesters have been marching each day since the killing, demanding the release of the full body camera video.
A coalition of media companies, including Spectrum News 1, asked for the video to be made public.
Brown's son, Khalil Ferebee, will be given the footage and it will not be released to the public for at least 30 days, but no more than 45 days, the judge ruled.
Lawyers for Brown's family say they have only been allowed to see 20 second of video from deputies.
They say the video shows Brown trying to drive away with both hands on the wheel when deputies shot and killed him.
"It was a kill shot to the back of the head," attorney Ben Crump told reporters Tuesday. "He posed no threat to these officers."
Seven Pasquotank County deputies are on leave after the shooting and the State Bureau of Investigations is investigating the incident.
An independent autopsy, released by the family, shows Brown was shot five times. The fatal gunshot was to the back of his head, lawyers for the family say.
Gov. Roy Cooper Tuesday called for a special prosecutor to be appointed in the case and the FBI has opened a civil rights investigation.
On Tuesday, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said, "A number of people have asked me to take over this prosecution. I want to clarify that under North Carolina law, the District Attorney, not the Attorney General, controls the prosecution of criminal cases."
"For my office to play a role in the prosecution, the District Attorney must request our assistance. My office has reached out to District Attorney Andrew Womble to offer that assistance, which he has acknowledged," Stein said in a statement on Twitter.
In a statement about the case Wednesday, SBI Director Robert Schurmeier said, "As far as any relevant video, we defer to the local authorities and the courts to make that determination as guided by State law. The SBI supports transparency to the greatest extent possible, as we think this serves the interests of the family, the local community, and North Carolina as a whole."
The FBI’s Charlotte field office, which opened the civil rights investigation into Brown’s death, said in a statement Tuesday that its agents planned to work closely with the Department of Justice “to determine whether federal laws were violated."
The Associated Press contributed to this report with information from WVEC and WITN.