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Demand for Release of Full Tape Grows as FBI Opens Probe Into Police Killing of Andrew Brown Jr.

"They waited 120 hours to get 20 seconds," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. "That is ridiculous." 

 Demonstrators hold signs during a protest march on April 24, 2021 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Protestors called for the release of body camera footage from the shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. on April 21. (Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Protesters at an April 24, 2021 demonstration in Elizabeth City, North Carolina demand authorities release full police body camera footage of the killing by Pasquotank County sheriff's deputies of unarmed Black man Andrew Brown Jr. on April 21, 2021. (Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images) 

As the FBI announced Tuesday that it is investigating the killing last week of unarmed Black man Andrew Brown Jr. by North Carolina sheriff's deputies, civil rights and racial justice groups joined the victim's relatives in demanding authorities release full police body camera footage of the shooting. 

 "We only saw a snippet of the video, and they determined what was pertinent. Why couldn't the family see all of the video?"
—Benjamin Crump, attorney

Five days after Brown, 42, was shot dead in his car outside of his Elizabeth City home by a team of SWAT-style Pasquotank County sheriff's deputies attempting to serve search and arrest warrants for alleged drug offenses, authorities on Monday allowed two of the slain man's relatives and their lawyers to view a heavily redacted 20-second video of the killing. 

After viewing the video, Brown family attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said the deputies "were shooting and saying, 'Let me see your hands,' at the same time. Let's be clear, this was an execution. Andrew Brown was in his driveway, and his hands were on the steering wheel."

"They were still shooting at him after his car had already crashed into a tree," she added. 

An independent autopsy performed by Dr. Brent Wayne Hall, a former medical examiner for five North Carolina counties, found that Brown was shot five times.

According to family attorney Wayne Kendall, four rounds from the deputies' barrage glanced his right arm. Kendall said Brown was then shot in the back of the head as he tried to drive away to save his life. 

"Yesterday I said he was executed. This autopsy report shows me that was correct," Khalil Ferebee, one of Brown's seven children, said at a Tuesday press conference. 

The restricted and incomplete nature of the video viewing sparked widespread outrage, with advocates calling on authorities to release all of the footage. 

"We do not feel that we got transparency," said civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is also representing Brown's family, at the Tuesday news conference. "We only saw a snippet of the video, and they determined what was pertinent. Why couldn't the family see all of the video? They only showed one bodycam video, even though we know there were several."

The North Carolina NAACP released a statement Tuesday demanding an "immediate review of the body cameras."

"Here we are again outraged to hear of yet another Black man dead, allegedly at the hands of those who are supposed to protect and serve," the statement said. "The murder of Andrew Brown in Elizabeth City, North Carolina... on the morning after the guilty-on-every-count verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin screams for increased scrutiny of the policing system." 

Appearing on Democracy Now! on Tuesday, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II—co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign and president of Repairers of the Breach—said that "a warrant is not a license to kill" and that "the tapes should be released." 

"They waited 120 hours to get 20 seconds," Barber, who is also the longtime chair of the North Carolina NAACP, said of local authorities. "That is absolutely ridiculous."

"When something happened like this in Columbus, it was released almost immediately," he added, referring to the police killing of 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant in the Ohio capital on the day before Brown's death. 

Another Brown family lawyer, Bakari Sellers, also called for the full video's release, saying that "police can't sweep this under the rug." 

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and state Attorney General Josh Stein, both Democrats, have also called for the video's release. 

Although ongoing protests against Brown's killing—now in their sixth day—have been peaceful, Elizabeth City Mayor Bettie J. Parker on Monday declared a local state of emergency in which she said that "our citizens and businesses must be protected from violence and damage."

Parker said the state of emergency will continue "until deemed no longer necessary to protect our citizens."

In response, Barber and other religious leaders on Tuesday declared a "moral emergency" in Elizabeth City. 

"What we see happening in Elizabeth City with a man shot in the back and the inept way the investigation is being handled by the district attorney and sheriff is a moral failure," Barber said outside a local church. 

Also on Tuesday, the FBI's Charlotte office announced it was opening an investigation into Brown's killing. The North Carolina Bureau of Investigation is also investigating the incident. 

Seven Pasquotank County sheriff's deputies—who found no guns or drugs on Brown or in his vehicle—have been placed on administrative leave following the killing. 

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