Federal investigators have launched a civil rights investigation into the law enforcement killing of Andrew Brown, a Black man shot and killed in North Carolina last week.
In a statement quoted by several outlets, an FBI spokesperson said the bureau’s Charlotte field office has opened a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting.
“Agents will work closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina and the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice to determine whether federal laws were violated,” the spokesperson added. “As this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further,”
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is already probing what Brown’s son called the “execution” of his father by Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies last week. The deputies shot at Brown during the attempted service of search and arrest warrants related to drug charges against him.
“The issue will likely come down to whether our deputies had reason to believe Mr. Brown’s action put them at risk for a serious injury or death,” Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Fogg in a video statement last week, the day following the shooting.
On Monday, members of Brown’s family and the family’s legal team viewed what they described as a 20-second “snippet” of one sheriff’s deputy’s body camera footage of the incident. They asserted afterward that the video did not show Brown posing a threat to law enforcement.
One of the attorneys, Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, said the video showed the deputies shooting at Brown as he sat in his car with his hands on the steering wheel.
“He still stood there, sat there, in his vehicle, with his hands on the steering wheel while being shot at,” she said.
On Tuesday morning, shortly before the announcement of the federal probe, the legal team for the Brown family presented the findings of an independent autopsy showing what they described as several bullet wounds Brown had sustained, including one in the back of his head and four others in his arm.
Both the Brown family and news organizations have called for the public release of body camera and other video footage of the incident. A court hearing on that question is set for Wednesday morning.