Bodycam video shows Andrew Brown Jr. did not drive into the deputies who shot him dead, according to the attorneys for the black man’s family, after a judge allowed them to watch more footage of his killing at the hands of law enforcement.
Chance Lynch, a lawyer who viewed the footage in private with Brown’s family Tuesday, said it shows Brown was sitting in his stationary car with his hands on the wheel when officers ‘ambushed’ him and opened fire.
He said the 42-year-old black man’s hands were ‘visible at all times’ and he at no point posed a threat to law enforcement.
Brown was stationary in his car until deputies started shooting at him, at which point he did ‘the opposite’ of driving at the officers, putting his car in reverse to back away from the gunfire, Lynch said.
Lynch called for ‘a long prison sentence’ for the deputies responsible, as he described the black man’s death as a ‘massacre by a firing squad.’
‘What we saw was a massacre by a firing squad. We want justice. We want arrest, conviction, and a long prison sentence,’ said Lynch in a press conference after the viewing.
Brown, a 42-year-old black man, was shot multiple times and killed on the morning of April 21 by Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies.
The father-of-10 was inside his car outside his house in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, when the officers were serving him drug-related search and arrest warrants.
Brown’s family have repeatedly described his death as an ‘execution’, saying he had his hands on the steering wheel of the car and was shot in the back of the head.
His death came just one day after Derek Chauvin was found guilty of George Floyd’s murder.
Bodycam video shows Andrew Brown Jr. (center) did not drive into the deputies who shot him dead, according to the attorneys for the black man’s family, after a judge allowed them to watch more footage of his killing at the hands of law enforcement
Chance Lynch (center), a lawyer who viewed the footage in private with Brown’s family Tuesday, said it shows Brown was sitting in his stationary car with his hands on the wheel when officers first opened fire on him
Calls have been mounting for authorities to release all the bodycam footage of the incident.
To date, no footage has been released to the public or the media.
Brown’s family and attorney had previously been shown just a 20-second clip from one deputy’s body camera.
On Tuesday, they were finally allowed to view around 18 minutes of the roughly two hours worth of bodycam and dashcam footage of the incident. The footage was from one dashcam and five bodycam videos.
They were not allowed to make copies or recordings of it and the footage was heavily redacted, with the faces and name tags of the deputies involved blurred out.
The family’s lawyers say the footage contradicts statements by the local district attorney, who said in court that deputies didn’t start firing until after Brown’s vehicle struck them twice.
Lynch’s description matches what another family attorney said after seeing the shorter clip.
‘We did not see any actions on Mr. Brown’s part where he made contact with them or tried to go in their direction,’ Lynch told reporters.
‘In fact, he did just the opposite. While there was a group of law enforcement that were in front of him, he went the opposite direction.’
Lynch, who described the shooting as ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘unjustified,’ said the bodycam footage also shows deputies found no weapons on Brown as they searched his vehicle after pulling the fatally injured black man from the car and lying him face down.
During a court hearing last month over the sheriff’s request to release the video, District Attorney Andrew Womble said Brown’s car was backing up when it first ‘made contact’ with law enforcement officers, then came to a stop before moving again.
He said the 42-year-old black man actually did ‘the opposite’ of driving at the officers, turning his car to go ‘the opposite direction’ as he described his death as a ‘massacre by a firing squad’
Khalil Ferebeee, Brown’s son, said after watching the footage that his father ‘did not deserve to die’
‘The next movement of the car is forward. It is in the direction of law enforcement and makes contact with law enforcement. It is then and only then that you hear shots,’ Womble said.
Lynch hit out at Womble over his version of events questioning ‘what footage’ the DA saw and telling him they weren’t born ‘last night.’
‘I’m not sure what footage the district attorney has seen. I can only go off what he said and what he has insinuated,’ he said.
‘We have a saying where I’m from and that saying is “I was born at night but I not last last night”.’
He described the footage he had seen as showing Brown being ‘ambushed’ and said the father-of-10 appeared to be ‘surprised’ and possibly on his cellphone at the time.
‘He appears to be surprised and also appears to be on his phone,’ he said.
‘At all times his hands were visible. At all time’s you can see he was not a threat.’
He said at least one shot was fired before Brown moved his car and that he actually put his car in reverse – away from the direction of officers.
‘There was a shot fired. When the shot was fired he put the car in reverse putting several feet if not yards away from the police who were there,’ he said.
‘He turned his wheel to the left to turn it away from the law enforcement officers.
‘At no point did we see any of the police officers behind his vehicle. At no point did we ever see Mr. Brown make contact with law enforcement.’
The results of an independent autopsy released by attorneys for Brown’s family shows he was shot five times; four times in his right arm and once in the head
Brown’s car is seen after his fatal shooting in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, on April 21
Instead, he said deputies may have reached out and touched the car as Brown tried to drive away, but that he didn’t initiate the contact.
Lynch also said there were ‘so many shots’ fired at Brown’s car that they struggled to determine the exact number.
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II has previously said his deputies weren’t injured in the incident.
Brown’s son Jha’rod Ferebee told reporters his father ‘did not deserve to die at all.’
‘He did not deserve to get killed in any way, shape or form. He did not pose any threat at all,’ he said.
Attorney Bakari Sellers called for the ‘arrest, prosecution, conviction and a long prison sentence’ to be brought against the deputies involved in Brown’s death, calling on prosecutors to ‘throw away the key.’
Under North Carolina law, bodycam footage is not a public record and cannot be released without a court order.
At a court hearing on April 27, Judge Jeffery Foster denied a media petition to release the footage publicly for at least 30 days, saying it might impede the ongoing investigation.
He said he would consider releasing it after this date if the investigation has been completed.
A decision is therefore expected on whether the footage will be publicly released around May 27.
Sheriff Wooten has also called for the full footage to be publicly released and North Carolina’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, urged for its swift release.
While denying the public release of the footage, Foster ruled that around 20 minutes of the two hours worth of footage would be disclosed to the family within 10 days.
The moment a ‘militarized’ sheriff’s vehicle carrying armed deputies rushed to Brown’s home
But the family were left with a further wait after the judge then took nine days to issue the written ruling from the April 27 court hearing.
Foster finally handed the ruling down on May 6, meaning the 10-day time limit started from then.
He approved the disclosure of video one in its entirety (3 minutes and 1 second).
He has also approved 1 minute 40 seconds from the almost 35 minute-long video two, 4 minutes 50 from the 32 minute long video three, 4 minutes 30 seconds of the 17 minute long video four and 4 minutes 40 of the 30 minute long video five.
All footage approved for release comes from the beginning of each respective recording.
Ten deputies were on the scene of Brown’s death but just five had bodyworn cameras activated.
After viewing the 20-second clip from one deputy’s body camera, an attorney for Brown’s family said it showed an ‘execution’.
Attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said it shows deputies shot Brown as he sat with his hands on the steering wheel of his BMW.
An independent autopsy commissioned by his family said Brown was shot five times, including once in the back of the head. The state autopsy is yet to be released.
The delay in releasing the footage has sparked outrage across North Carolina, with protesters taking to the streets since his death demanding transparency over the black man’s death.
While law enforcement have released few details about Brown’s death, police instead released court documents about the search warrant that brought them to Brown that day describing him as a drug dealer.
It’s a move that sparked more outrage with the family’s attorney Ben Crump accusing authorities of protecting the officers while they ‘assassinate the character’ of Brown.
The identities of the officers involved in the shooting were finally released in late April as the three officers who Wooten said did shoot at Brown – investigator Daniel Meads; deputy Robert Morgan and Cpl Arron Lewellyn – remain on administrative leave.
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten announced four other deputies – Lt Steven Judd; Sgts Michael Swindell; Kenneth Bishop and Joel Lunsford – were cleared to return to active duty after the investigation revealed they did not fire their guns.
All seven had initially been placed on administrative leave after Brown’s death.
Meanwhile two others – Deputy Sheriff William Harris and Lt. Christopher Terry – resigned in the aftermath and Deputy James Flowers retired.
The FBI has launched a civil rights probe into the shooting, while state agents are conducting a separate investigation.
Jha’rod Ferebee (left) and Khalil Ferebee (right) speak during the funeral for their father Andrew Brown Jr. at the Fountain of Life church last week
Protesters march through Elizabeth City over Brown’s death and the decision not to release the bodycam