ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. – Family and friends of Andrew Brown Jr. will gather at a funeral service Monday to honor the life of the man fatally shot by North Carolina sheriff’s deputies last month in a case that has drawn national attention amid calls for accountability and transparency.
Brown, 42, who was Black, was shot five times, including once to the back of his head as deputies with the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office were serving search and arrest warrants related to alleged drug offenses at his Elizabeth City home.
The Rev. Al Sharpton is set to deliver the eulogy at the invite-only funeral at noon Monday. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is part of a team of lawyers representing Brown’s family, and the Rev. William Barber II, leader of the Poor People’s Campaign, will also give remarks.
On Sunday, Brown’s loved ones and the public paid their respects during a viewing at a funeral home in nearby Hertford. Brown’s casket was open from the waist up and a thin veil covered his face.
This week, Brown’s family is set to see more bodycam video of his April 21 death. A judge ruled last week not to release the footage to the public but that Brown’s family should see more than the brief, edited clip they were already shown.
“My dad got executed just by trying to save his own life,” Khalil Ferebee, one of Brown’s children, said after viewing the 20-second clip. “Those officers were in no harm of him at all.”
Brown’s family and protesters have called for the full footage to be made public but North Carolina law requires a judge’s order to do so. Judge Jeff Foster said he would reevaluate whether to release the footage within 30 to 45 days, after the State Bureau of Investigation completes its inquiry into the case and the district attorney can make any potential charging decision.
A coalition of media organizations, including USA TODAY’s parent company Gannett, petitioned to have the video released, but Foster ruled the media did not have standing.
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Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, an attorney who was shown the bodycam clip alongside his family, said the video shows Brown with his hands on the steering wheel of his car and not a threat to deputies. She says the footage shows the deputies running up to Brown’s car while shooting, and that “he finally decides to try to get away and he backs out, not going toward the officers at all.”
District Attorney Andrew Womble called Cherry-Lassiter’s account “patently false.” Womble says Brown’s vehicle is seen making contact with the officers. “It is then and only then that you hear shots,” Womble said.
Last Thursday, Sheriff Tommy Wooten released the names of seven deputies involved in the fatal shooting.
All seven were placed on administrative leave after the shooting, but a review of body-camera footage shows four of the deputies never fired a weapon, Wooten said in the release. Those deputies have been reinstated to active duty.
Contributing: John Bacon, USA TODAY; The Associated Press