Mayor Declares State Of Emergency Ahead Of Bodycam Footage Release Of Fatal Shooting
ELIZABETH CITY, NC - APRIL 23: A demonstrator holds a sign addressing Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten after an emergency city council meeting April 23, 2021 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Protestors were calling for the release of police body camera footage from the shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. on April 21. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images via Getty Images

Mayor Bettie Parker of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, declared a state of emergency Monday before body camera footage is released of a shooting involving a deputy and a 42-year-old black man that happened last week and sparked protests in the city over the weekend.

In the declaration, Parker said, “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 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.”

Over the weekend, police said that the protests had not resulted in property damage and no arrests were made.

On Wednesday, Andrew Brown, Jr., a 42-year-old black man, was reportedly killed following an encounter with law enforcement authorities. 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.”

WUNC North Carolina Public Radio reported:

Recordings of scanner traffic compiled by from the morning of the shooting include emergency personnel indicating that Brown was shot in the back. An eyewitness has said that deputies fired shots at Brown as he tried to drive away, and a car authorities removed from the scene appeared to have multiple bullet holes and its back windshield shattered.

Amid growing calls for the body camera footage to be released, Wooten said over the weekend that he would ask a judge to release the footage on Monday. He said that he would make sure that the release of the footage would not compromise any investigation efforts by the State Bureau of Investigation.

“Only a judge can release the video. That’s why I’ve asked the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to confirm for me that the releasing of the video will not undermine their investigation. Once I get that confirmation, our county will file a motion in court, hopefully Monday, to have the footage released,” he said.

As reported by The Associated Press on Monday, new information has been revealed about the search warrant that is said to be the purpose for the deputies arriving at Brown’s house. The warrant “said that an investigator in nearby Dare County was told by the informant that the person had been purchasing crack cocaine and other drugs” for over a year from Brown. The warrant said that in March, local narcotics officers used the informant to conduct controlled purchases of methamphetamine and cocaine on two separate occasions. The warrant says both buys were recorded.

Previously disclosed arrest warrants from Dare County included charges of possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine and methamphetamine against Brown.”

Last week, the AP reported, “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.”

Brown’s family is expected to see the body camera footage before it is released to the public. The family’s attorney, Wayne Kendall, said, “Family members are allowed to see bodycam recording if the image of a deceased person that is related to that person is on the recording. And their attorneys are allowed to see it. That’s codified within the statute, so there’s no issue there.” 

The family is also partially represented by attorney Ben Crump, according to The New York Times. Crump was one of the lawyers representing George Floyd’s family in the highly anticipated trial of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin. Last week, a jury found Chauvin guilty on all three counts in relation to the death of George Floyd.

Seven sheriff’s deputies have been put on administrative leave following the incident in North Carolina last week, NPR reported. Three other deputies have resigned, but the sheriff’s office said the resignations were not related to the event. 

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