By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on May 7, 2021
Update: Several media outlets are now reporting that Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II has announced an agreement to show the family of Andrew Brown Jr. the body camera video on Tuesday, May 11.
An Order filed on May 6 by North Carolina Superior Court Judge Jeffry Foster restarts the clock on when the family of Andrew Brown Jr. can see excerpts of the body camera video that captured the fatal shooting of Brown in Elizabeth City on April 21.
Brown, 42, was shot in his vehicle by Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Deputies who were trying to serve a felony drug arrest warrant. Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II has subsequently stated that three deputies fired their weapons. An autopsy commissioned by the Brown family concluded he was killed by a shot to the back of his head.
The Order by Foster also states that of the roughly two hours of footage captured that day on five deputies’ body cameras, the family will be able to see about 19 minutes. The judge said that the portions of the video being withheld “are found not to contain images of the deceased, and thus are not appropriate for disclosure at this time.”
The issue of the body camera footage has become a central component of this case, which has captured national attention and put the focus on the North Carolina law that says such video can only be released by a court order. Thus far, Brown’s family has only seen 20 seconds of footage from the shooting incident.
On April 28, after a request for release of the footage by a consortium of media outlets, Foster ruled that Brown’s family could see an edited version within 10 days. The Order from Foster states that such disclosure of the video to the family must now take place within 10 days of May 6.
In his April 28, ruling, Foster also denied the request to publicly release the footage, choosing to delay any release for anywhere from 30 to 45 days so that the investigation into the shooting by the NC State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) can be concluded.
In the meantime, opposition to the state law requiring a court order to release body camera footage is growing. At their meeting on May 6, the Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution asking the N.C. General Assembly to change the body camera law “to ensure transparency.”
At that virtual meeting, the Pasquotank Commissioners were joined by Sheriff Wooten, who also said he supported a change in the law “for the better of law enforcement, the judicial system and the community as a whole.” Governor Roy Cooper has also voiced his desire for a change in the law “so that the video is presumed to be public” rather than requiring a judge to make it public.