ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — For the second night in a row, protests took place in Elizabeth City to press authorities for transparency after a man was shot and killed by a Pasquotank County deputy Wednesday morning.
Protesters are demanding the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office release body camera video of the deputy-involved shooting that happened on Perry Street in Elizabeth City Wednesday as authorities tried to execute a search warrant.
The shooting left a man, 42-year-old Andrew Brown Jr., dead at the scene. His family said he was a father to 10 children.
Thursday night’s protest was the second in as many days.
Crowds gathered Wednesday night as City Council met for an emergency meeting in Elizabeth City to discuss the shooting, then protesters peacefully marched around the city until clearing out around 10 p.m.
Thursday’s protest began a little after 5 p.m. and moved through the streets of Elizabeth City as demonstrators again demanded the release of body camera footage from the shooting. Several people passionately spoke, asking the community to come together and demand change.
“We are tired. We are weary. We have been doing this over and over and over,” said one woman on a loudspeaker.
After leaving the municipal center in Elizabeth City, the group walked to the scene of the shooting on Perry Street. Speakers encouraged the community to keep pressing officials for information.
“We shall get justice,” one man said.
From there, protesters walked to Ehringhaus Street, where they remained for much of the night.
The demonstration was overall peaceful. At one point, protesters did surround a police vehicle and placed signs on the windshield. Another officer came over and moved people away from the car. It was able to drive away after a few minutes.
People in the crowd said they’ll keep walking until they get answers.
“We’re standing or protesting we’re not fighting but it’s at the point where you feel like fighting, you do,” a protester said.
Protesters had mostly dispersed by 9 p.m. More protests are planned for Friday.
Sheriff’s office officials release more details
Sheriff Tommy S. Wooten II and Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg with the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office released a video statement on Facebook on Thursday evening.
Wooten said Brown’s death is tragic and he hopes the community will join him in praying for his family.
He also said that the deputies involved in the shooting are on administrative leave “until we know all the facts.” The attorney for the family on Thursday said three deputies were involved.
“I will not prejudge anything or draw any conclusions until we have all the facts,” Wooten said.
Wooten and Fogg gave additional details about the nature of the incident Wednesday: The sheriff’s office was there to serve arrest and search warrants relating to felony drug charges.
They said they classified the procedure as high-risk because Brown was a convicted felon with a history of resisting arrest. For that reason, they also had their local version of a SWAT team and deputies from other agencies assisting.
The sheriff’s office said they can only release the body camera footage with an order from a judge, as required by North Carolina law.
The sheriff’s office has handed over the shooting investigation to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
“I will say if the evidence shows that any of my deputies violated the law or policies they will be held accountable because that is what the citizens expect me to do and it’s the right thing to do,” Wooten said.
Fogg added that they’re asking community leaders to help them with their three priorities following the shooting: Transparency about what happened, accountability for any wrongdoing, and peace for the community.
Since the shooting, Fogg and Wooten added that their deputies had received threats.
Process to release body camera video
According to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, special agents are continuing their work in the shooting investigation.
However, the bureau added that it’s not its decision as to when and how body camera video is released.
In a news release, the NC State Bureau of Investigation said body-worn video can only be released after a court order under North Carolina law.
“Any requests as it relates to the release of such video should be directed to the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office or the District Attorney’s Office,” the NC State Bureau of Investigation said.
As far as other information on the investigation, the bureau said it understands “the need for transparency and will release what information we can when we’re able to release it.”
District Attorney Andrew Womble and Pasquotank County Attorney R. Michael Cox released a joint statement Thursday afternoon about body camera footage.
“We know people want to see the body camera footage. It is reasonable for people to ask to see it, because such video can help provide key context about what happened in incidents like this. However, under North Carolina law, police body worn camera footage is not a public record and cannot be released to the press or public without a court order. The UNC School of Government blog has an article describing this further. We must follow the law and the law prohibits us from publicly releasing the body worn camera footage. The law does allow a private viewing by the family of Mr. Brown we are working with their attorney to arrange that.”
Correction: An original version of this article misstated Brown’s age based on statements made by relatives on Wednesday. Court records indicate Brown is 42.