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North Carolina DA says deputies were justified in fatally shooting Andrew Brown Jr.

Andrew Womble
Posted at 5:02 AM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-18 16:44:57-04

A North Carolina District Attorney said Tuesday that deputies were justified in their use of force in the fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. last month. None of those deputies will face charges.

Andrew Womble, the attorney for North Carolina's first judicial district, also showed police-worn body camera footage during Tuesday's press conference.

In his press conference, Womble said that the deputies with the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Department that fatally shot Brown while serving a narcotics warrant at his home on April 21 did not fire their weapons until Brown drove his car toward the officers.

Womble said that the deputies used force "reasonably and only when a violent used a deadly weapon to put their lives in danger."

"I think Mr. Brown's intention was to get away," Womble said during Tuesday's briefing. "The officers positioned around the car was the reason he drove at officers...when he made the decision to flee, he put those officers' lives in danger."

Womble's comments Tuesday directly contradict comments made by Brown's family and their attorneys, who viewed the body camera footage last week. They claimed that the video showed Brown did not intend to drive at deputies.

Womble also said that information from the medical examiner determined that Brown was shot twice — once in the shoulder and once in the back of the head.

Those findings directly contradict an independent autopsy commissioned by Brown's family. That autopsy found that Brown was shot five times total — four times in his arm and once in the back of the head.

Womble said that the medical examiner's findings determined there were "abrasions" consistent with shrapnel on Brown's arms.

When asked about inconsistencies between the Brown family's findings and his own and whether Brown's family had lied, Womble made a general claim that "falsehoods had been made."

The district attorney later said that drugs were found in Brown's car following the shooting. The medical examiner added that Brown had placed a bag of what appeared to be crystal meth in his mouth prior to the shooting.

Womble's comments on Tuesday came after nearly an entire month of peaceful protests in Elizabeth City. Demonstrators have been calling for the full release of body cam footage.

On Monday night, protesters in Elizabeth City made their voices heard.

"I hope they'll release the tape," one resident said.

"I hope that (Womble) will recuse himself from the investigation," Elizabeth City resident Jessie Colombo said.

Colombo has hit the streets with protesters often since Brown's death.

"To put pressure on the department to put out the tape. The actual footage — not edited footage," she said.

Keith Rivers, the president of the Pasquotank NAACP, said the organization is anxiously awaiting Womble's remarks on Tuesday.

"We want justice," Rivers said. "We're going to stay optimistic even though we don't have reason."

The Pasquotank NAACP is demanding the resignation of Sheriff Tommy Wooten II and the firing of the deputies involved in Brown's death.

Initially, seven deputies were put on administrative leave after Brown's fatal shooting. On April 29, four deputies were put back on duty after Wooten said they did not fire weapons. Three deputies are still on leave.

Along with those demands, Rivers said the NAACP is also requesting a community citizen-police review board with subpoena power.

"At this time, the trust has been breached," Rivers said. "By having community persons, citizens of the community involved in the process, we can go in now and say, 'Hey, when something is done like this, you have people already at the table who have an insight to this.'"

The NAACP says they will continue marching and peacefully protesting to get their message across.

"We're going to continue to show this county that we're not going away," Rivers said. "This is not a small issue."

Womble's news conference is expected to start at 11 a.m. ET Tuesday at the Public Safety Building in Elizabeth City.

This story was originally published by Zak Dahlheimer on Scripps station WTKR in Norfolk, Virginia.