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Andrew Brown's Family Reacts To Police Bodycam Shooting Footage


First, North Carolina authorities said they had to wait to release the video of a police shooting. Now they've shown a small part of that video to Andrew Brown Jr.'s family. The video apparently shows just a bit of Brown's arrest and death in Pasquotank County, N.C. So what have we learned? NPR's Sarah McCammon is in Elizabeth City, where this is all happening. Sarah, good morning.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: Got to note - the public has seen no video here. So what we have are lawyers' descriptions of the video. What do the lawyers say?

MCCAMMON: That's right. Lawyers for Andrew Brown's family addressed the media yesterday. They say they were allowed to view a 20-second clip from one of the officer's body cams from the shooting last Wednesday morning. And what they describe is disturbing. Here's one of the family's attorneys, Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, talking to reporters yesterday.


CHANTEL CHERRY-LASSITER: Let's be clear - this was an execution. Andrew Brown was in his driveway. Andrew had his hands on his steering wheel. He was not reaching for anything. He was not touching anything. He wasn't throwing anything around. He had his hands firmly on the steering wheel. They run up to his vehicle shooting. He still stood there, set there in his vehicle with his hands on the steering wheel while being shot at.

MCCAMMON: And Cherry-Lassiter said that during that 20-second video she viewed, which she said she viewed multiple times, she lost count of how many shots were fired. She says there were several officers present, and they all should have been wearing body cameras, so the family wants to see all of the footage.

INSKEEP: And, of course, again, we've seen nothing, which is a bit unusual or feels unusual from the outside, because we reported yesterday that North Carolina police say they cannot release body cam video without a judge's permission, and that takes time. OK. But how do they come to then show one portion to the family without just releasing the whole thing?

MCCAMMON: So the sheriff here, Tommy Wooten, and other Pasquotank County officials have been taking the position that they have the authority under state law to release parts of the video, to show parts of the video to the family at their discretion. But they've also said they need a court order to release all of the footage to the public. Wooten is asking for patience from the public and asking for them to allow the investigation to play out. Here's what he said in a recorded video statement released yesterday.


TOMMY WOOTEN: This tragic incident was quick and over in less than 30 seconds. And body cameras are shaky and sometimes hard to decipher. They only tell part of the story.

MCCAMMON: There's been a lot of pressure from the public and Andrew Brown Jr.'s family to release the body cam footage since the shooting last week. Late in the day yesterday, after several days of pressure, Sheriff Wooten announced that he had asked for a court order allowing him to do that.

INSKEEP: OK, so we'll find out if we do see the rest of the video. But how are people in Elizabeth City responding to what has been described to them so far?

MCCAMMON: There have been protests every day. They seem to be growing. Last night the crowd was reacting to the news of the family seeing that footage - chanting, release the tape and the real tape. Kirk Rivers, who I met last night, is a Black man in his 40s, like Andrew Brown Jr. was, and Rivers was wearing a T-shirt that said on the back, who's next? He says he was disturbed by what he'd heard.

KIRK RIVERS: We don't want not one single person for the family to have to go through what the Brown family is going through right now. We don't need another community to lose a individual over when their hands were on the steering wheel - no threat to nobody.

INSKEEP: And again, he's describing what has been described to us. A lot of questions still unanswered, at least in public. Where does the investigation go?

MCCAMMON: Well, the state Bureau of Investigation is looking into the matter. Seven deputies with the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office are on paid administrative leave. And we're expected to know more today, after the family releases an independent autopsy report.

INSKEEP: NPR's Sarah McCammon is in Elizabeth City, N.C.

Sarah, thanks.

MCCAMMON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Sarah McCammon worked for Iowa Public Radio as Morning Edition Host from January 2010 until December 2013.
Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.

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