A North Carolina judge on Wednesday ruled against media organizations seeking the quick public release of body camera footage showing the fatal law enforcement shooting of Andrew Brown, Jr.
However, Pitt County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Foster ruled that members of Brown’s immediate family, as well as an attorney for the family, would be able to see additional body camera footage of the incident within 10 days.
In addition, Foster said, he would consider the release of the videos between 30 and 45 days from Wednesday, allowing time for state and FBI investigations into Brown’s death.
“The state is to notify the court when such investigations are completed, and the court in its discretion will consider, at that time, further release of the video,” Foster said.
Here’s part of Pasquotank County Judge Jeffrey Foster’s ruling on bodycam footage in the Andrew Brown Jr. case.
He ruled the video be held from public release for “no less than 30 days and no more than 45 days.”
— WAVY TV 10 (@WAVY_News) April 28, 2021
An attorney for Brown’s family called the decision a “partial victory,” noting that the family has thus far only seen a 20-second “snippet” of one body camera video. Now, Brown’s relatives will be able to see five videos, though the footage will have identifying information of responding officers redacted.
Brown was killed by Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies during the service of search and arrest warrants for alleged drug violations.
After viewing the single body camera clip on Monday, attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said it showed deputies firing at Brown as he sat in his vehicle with his hands on the wheel. Family attorneys and Brown’s son referred to Brown’s death as a law enforcement “execution.”
In court, District Attorney Andrew Womble said releasing the video before the state and federal investigations concluded could bias the process.
“You cannot swing a skunk in front of a group of people and then ask them not to smell it,” he said.
Womble separately asserted he’d seen body cam footage showing Brown’s vehicle making contact with law enforcement.
“If that’s your position, show the tape!” family attorney Harry Daniels said after the hearing. “I stand by what I saw,” Cherry-Lassiter said after him.
An attorney for the media outlets seeking the public release of the body camera footage indicated they would appeal the decision.
The family’s legal team announced Tuesday that an independent autopsy had shown five bullet wounds on Brown’s body, including a fatal shot in the back of his head.