Independent autopsy says Andrew Brown Jr. was shot 5 times by deputies, FBI opens federal civil rights probe

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ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (NewsNation Now) — Attorneys for the family of a Black man shot and killed by deputies in North Carolina said an independent autopsy shows that he was shot five times, including a shot in the back of the head, as officials worked to release bodycam footage of the shooting.

Brown, a 42-year-old Black man from Elizabeth City, was shot to death by one or more deputy sheriffs trying to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants. An eyewitness said Brown tried to drive away but was shot dead in his car. The shooting has prompted protests and demands for accountability in the eastern North Carolina city of about 18,000. Elizabeth City set a curfew starting at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Attorney Wayne Kendall said Tuesday that an independent pathologist hired by Andrew Brown Jr.’s family examined his body. Two shots to Brown’s right arm penetrated the skin and two other shots to the arm grazed him, Kendall said. The pathologist could not determine the distance from which they were fired.

Brown was shot in the back of the head in what lawyers called a “kill shot.” The pathologist who performed the autopsy did not speak at the news conference and did not appear to be there.

The state’s autopsy has not been released yet. The family’s lawyers also released a copy of the death certificate, which lists the cause of death as a “penetrating gunshot wound of the head.” It describes the death as a homicide.

The pathologist, North Carolina-based Dr. Brent Hall, noted a wound to the back of Brown’s head from an undetermined distance that penetrated his skull and brain. He said there was no exit wound.

You can read a summary of the independent autopsy order by Brown’s family below:

The FBI announced Tuesday that’s launching a federal civil rights investigation into the case.

“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,” said FBI spokeswoman Shelley Lynch. “As this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further.”

The release of the autopsy comes one day after Brown’s family and attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter viewed 20 seconds of body camera video of the fatal shooting which appeared to show Brown with his hands on the car steering wheel before being shot by deputies.

Lassiter said in the bodycam footage Brown did not appear to be a threat to officers as he backed his vehicle out of his driveway and tried to drive away from deputies with guns drawn.

“There was no time in the 20 seconds that we saw where he was threatening the officers in any kind of way,” she told reporters at a news conference after the release.

“My dad got executed just by trying to save his own life,” said Brown’s adult son Khalil Ferebee, who watched the video. “The officers were not in no harm of him at all. It’s just messed up how this happened.”

Hours after Brown’s family viewed the footage, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten and Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg released a prerecorded video on social media saying they have filed a motion with the court to release the bodycam video publicly, which is necessary under North Carolina law.

“Those who claim that the sheriff’s office has the ability to release the video either does not know North Carolina law, or they are purposely trying to inflame a tragic situation,” Fogg said in the video.

Wooten asked for patience while the State Bureau of Investigation probes the case.

“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,” he said.

Mayor Bettie J. Parker announced Monday the city would be under a local state of emergency until further notice ahead of the public release of the footage.

Parker also said Monday in the declaration that city officials will file a formal request Monday with the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s office to make the release of the footage public. North Carolina’s Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper also issued a statement calling for the swift release of the footage.

At least seven deputies have been placed on leave following the shooting. Another three deputies resigned who were not directly involved in the shooting, Wooten said. One was nearing retirement.

A search warrant released Monday indicated investigators had recorded Brown selling small amounts of cocaine and methamphetamine to an informant. Family lawyer Ben Crump argued that authorities were trying to release negative information about Brown while shielding themselves by holding back the video.

The warrant was sought by Wooten’s office and signed by a judge to allow the search of Brown’s Elizabeth City home. It said that an investigator in nearby Dare County was told by the informant that the person had been purchasing crack cocaine and other drugs from Brown for over a year. The informant described purchasing drugs at the house that was the target of the search.

In March, narcotics officers used the informant to conduct controlled purchases of methamphetamine and cocaine from Brown on two separate occasions, according to the warrant, which said both drug transactions were recorded using audio and video equipment.

The search warrant said investigators believed Brown was storing drugs in the home or two vehicles. The document, which indicated the search was not completed, did not list anything found.

Two arrest warrants released last week charged him with possession with intent to sell and deliver 3 grams of each of the drugs.

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.

Despite Brown’s past trouble with the law, several relatives and friends said they never knew him to be a violent person.

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

Brown had seven children of his own and helped take care of others, family attorney Harry Daniels said last week.

This story is developing. Refresh for updates.

The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate WAVY contributed to this report.

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