A North Carolina deputy shot and killed a Black man while serving a search warrant Wednesday, authorities said, spurring an outcry from community members who demanded law enforcement accountability and the immediate release of body camera footage.
Eyewitnesses say the man, Andrew Brown Jr., drove away from authorities while they were serving him a search warrant on Wednesday (April 21). One deputy fired multiple times at Brown’s vehicle, breaking his rear windshield and causing him to skid off the road and hit a tree.
Witness Demetria Williams, who lives on Brown’s street, told the Associated Press she ran outside after hearing a gunshot.
“When they opened the door he was already dead,” she said. “He was slumped over.”
“I didn’t believe that [deputy] really did that because he wasn’t a threat to them,” she added. “He was driving off even though he was trying to get away.”
Deputies tried to perform chest compressions on Brown, Williams said, but it was too late.
According to Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II the deputy who fired the shots has been placed on administrative leave. The incident has been referred to the State Bureau of Investigation, which will lead the investigation.
Wooten did not say what the search warrant the deputies were serving was for. Brown’s family told WAVY that he did not own a gun and court records show he had a history of non-violent drug offenses, AP reports.
“We want to know if he was served with a warrant, why the shooting over a warrant?” Brown’s other aunt, Clarissa Brown Gibson, told AP.
The City Council held an emergency meeting on Wednesday in response to the shooting. Protesters gathered outside of City Hall, the Sheriff’s Office and at the scene of the shooting to demand justice. Brown was reportedly 42 years old and a father to 10 children.
“The police didn’t have to shoot my baby,” Brown’s aunt Martha McCullen told AP. “Andrew Brown was a good person. He was about to get his kids back. He was a good father. Now his kids won’t never see him again.”
During the emergency City Council meeting, several council members demanded that the sheriff’s department quickly release body camera footage, the reason for the warrant and explain what led to the shooting. District Attorney Andrew Womble, who will review the State Bureau of Investigation’s findings, promised a thorough investigation.
“What we are looking for at this time will be accurate answers and not fast answers,” he said. “We’re going to wait for the full and complete investigation… and we’ll review that and make any determinations that we deem appropriate at that time. This will not be a rush to judgment.”
Brown’s grandmother, Lydia Brown, told AP she learned of her grandson’s death on the news.
“I am very upset. Andrew was a good person,” she said. “[They] didn’t have to shoot him like that.”
It truly feels like hunting season.
Prayers to the family of Andrew Brown Jr.