(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: County officers watch protesters after a deputy Sheriff shot and killed a Black suspect in Elizabeth City
(Reuters) – A North Carolina judge heard media organizations and the local sheriff on Wednesday push for the public release of body camera video showing law enforcement’s shooting death of Andrew Brown, Jr., while the district attorney argued against it.
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten and roughly 20 media organizations have filed petitions to release the video of the attempted arrest and fatal shooting by sheriff’s deputies last Wednesday, arguing disclosure was in the public interest.
At Wednesday’s court hearing, District Attorney Andrew Womble argued against immediate release, saying it could jeopardize an ongoing State Bureau of Investigation probe. He said there were four body camera videos of the shooting.
Womble asked Superior Court Judge Jeff Foster to allow 30 days for the SBI to complete its investigation and said he would argue against release even after that deadline if he decides to bring charges against the officers. He said release would hinder the “fair and impartial administration of justice.”
Foster, who indicated he had reviewed the videos, said he would render a judgment on the petitions on Wednesday.
Sheriff Wooten has said his deputies were attempting to serve search and arrest warrants on the 42-year-old Brown related to felony drug charges when the shooting occurred, and that Brown had a history of resisting arrest.
The shooting has led to a week of protests in Elizabeth City, a riverfront community near the Virginia border whose population is half African-American. The shooting happened one day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd in a trial that put a spotlight on police violence against Black people.
Attorney Mike Tadych, representing some 20 media organizations seeking the release of the videos, told the judge that his clients were “advocating for transparency in the hopes of aiding the national conversation we find ourselves in about citizens’ interaction with police.”
Lawyers for the Brown family have accused the officers of executing him. On Tuesday, they said an independent autopsy showed he died from a “kill shot” to the back of his head.
Also on Tuesday the FBI said it had opened a civil rights investigation of the shooting.
Media, sheriff ask judge to release officers’ video of Andrew Brown shooting
Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.