The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced Tuesday that it will be investigating the death of Andrew Brown Jr., a black man who died following an encounter with law enforcement authorities in North Carolina last week.
As reported by The Associated Press, “Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II has said that deputies shot and killed Brown while serving drug-related search and arrest warrants but released few other details.”
The FBI investigation was announced a day after Brown’s family and their attorneys were able to view body camera footage of the incident. An autopsy was also conducted that the family commissioned. The forensic pathologist, Dr. Brent Hall, reportedly found that Brown was shot four times in the right arm and one time in the back of the head.
As reported by NBC News, “The shot to the head was fired from ‘intermediate’ range and penetrated Brown’s skull and brain, according to Hall, who is based in Boone, North Carolina. The bullet wound had a trajectory of ‘bottom to top, left to right and back to front,’ Hall’s report said.”
“The FBI Charlotte Field Office has opened a federal civil rights investigation into the police-involved shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr.,” an FBI spokesman said. “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.”
Attorneys for Brown’s family spoke out about the clip of body camera footage they were able to view earlier this week. Wayne Kendall, one of the lawyers, said, “This, in fact, was a fatal wound to the back of Mr. Brown’s head as he was leaving the site trying to evade being shot at by these particular law enforcement officers that we believe did nothing but a straight-up execution.”
The family’s lawyers also put out a copy of Brown’s death certificate, which states the cause of death was a “penetrating gunshot wound of the head.” A paramedic services instructor who serves as a local medical examiner and lists the death as a homicide signed the document, the Associated Press reported.
Sheriff Wooten said that he wants answers, too.
“The private autopsy released by the family is important and I continue to pray for them during this difficult time,” Wooten said Tuesday afternoon. “However, a private autopsy is just one piece of the puzzle. The independent investigation being performed by the [State Bureau of Investigation] is crucial and the interviews, forensics, and other evidence they gather will help ensure that justice is accomplished.”
Ben Crump, one of the family’s attorneys who notably represented the Floyd family in the recent George Floyd case, tweeted a video containing footage of law enforcement authorities driving to Brown’s house.
“Just-released footage of the militarized police force rushing to kill Andrew Brown,” Crump tweeted. “This has become a constant sight across America, the evolution of policing that’s now terrorizing communities of color!”
Just-released footage of the militarized police force rushing to kill Andrew Brown. This has become a constant sight across America, the evolution of policing that's now terrorizing communities of color! (🎥/@WAVY_News) pic.twitter.com/bLwowoAgso
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) April 27, 2021
The county launched a “Check the Facts” website in order to push back on many of the allegedly false claims surrounding the shooting that have circulated on the internet.
The website states that one of the false internet rumors is “Because Mr. Brown was non-violent, there was no need for a SWAT team to be on site to arrest him.”
It goes on to explain:
The deputies who were serving the lawful search warrant and the lawful arrest warrant knew Mr. Brown was a convicted felon knew that he has been arrested previously on multiple occasions for resisting arrest. News reports indicate Mr. Brown had a criminal “rap sheet” more than 180 pages long, dating to 1988.
William Barr, the former attorney general during the Trump administration, launched a civil rights investigation last year into the death of George Floyd who died while in police custody, as seen in a viral video filmed by a witness. Last week, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in relation to the death of George Floyd. Merrick Garland, the current attorney general, said last week that the federal civil rights investigation into the death of Floyd is ongoing.
As The Daily Wire reported, Mayor Bettie Parker of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, declared a state of emergency Monday before body camera footage was released of the Brown shooting that sparked protests in the city over the weekend.
“In order to ensure the safety of our citizens and their property, City officials realize there may potentially be a period of civil unrest within the City following the public release of that [body camera] footage,” Parker wrote in the declaration.
Parker directed “all departments and agencies of Elizabeth City to take whatever steps necessary to protect life and property, public infrastructure, and provide such emergency assistance deemed necessary to preserve public safety.”