Seven deputies put on leave after fatal shooting of Black man in North Carolina

Seven North Carolina sheriff’s deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave after the fatal shooting of a Black man while they were carrying out an arrest warrant.

Andrew Brown Jr, 42, was shot dead while deputies carried out a warrant surrounding “felony drug charges” on Wednesday in Elizabeth City, officials with the Pasquotank County sheriff’s office said.

An eyewitness said Brown had tried to drive away from the scene but was shot dead in his car. Sheriff Tommy S Wooten confirmed in a statement on Thursday that the deputies fired the shots.

A vehicle authorities removed from the scene appeared to have multiple bullet holes and a shattered back window. All seven deputies have since been placed on leave while the incident is under investigation.

The shooting prompted protests and demands for accountability in the eastern North Carolina city, with demonstrators calling for body camera footage to be made available.

“Initial reports of the shooting in Elizabeth City and death of Andrew Brown, Jr this week are tragic and extremely concerning,” the state’s governor Roy Cooper said on Twitter on Friday.

“The body camera footage should be made public as quickly as possible and the SBI should investigate thoroughly to ensure accountability.”

In the video statement, Mr Wooten said body camera footage of the arrest cannot be released without the permission of a judge. No timetable has yet been given.

Mr Wooten has said “to ensure accountability” the department has asked the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) to conduct the investigation and has pledged “transparency”.

Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg said that a “local version of a SWAT team” was deployed as Brown was a convicted felon and had a history of resisting arrest and that “training and policy indicate” there would be a “high risk of danger.”

Court records show Brown had a history of criminal charges stretching back into the 1990s, including a misdemeanor drug possession conviction and some pending felony drug charges.

Daniel Bowser, who said he had been friends with Brown for 30 years, told the Associated Press: “No matter what his past reflects, it still doesn’t give him (the deputy) the right to shoot him, period.”

An aunt who helped raise Brown in the absence of his parents, Martha McCullen, described how it was hard for her nephew to find a job, especially with a criminal record.

“Because they’re convicted… they can’t get no jobs,” she said. “It’s crazy.” One in five in Elizabeth City live in poverty.

Mr Fogg said that the investigation would evaluate whether the deputies had “reason to believe Mr Brown’s actions put them at risk of serious injury or death.”

While they said they would not make any judgements until they “know all the facts” Mr Wooten stated that “if evidence shows that any of my deputies violated the law or policies they will be held accountable.”

The SBI will turn over its findings to District Attorney Andrew Womble, who said on Wednesday that he was looking for “accurate” not “fast” answers.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press


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