The fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. is exposing just how many ways there are to add insult to literal injury.
Brown was “executed” when police shot the 42-year-old driver in the back of his head in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, his son said. Now, Fox News is attempting to assassinate Brown’s character in death.
Family members and their lawyers have seen a “snippet” of the bodycam video from the shooting last week and said Brown had both of his hands on his car’s steering wheel when multiple police officers opened fire on him following a crash into a tree. While Brown’s autopsy results were expected to be revealed Tuesday, they said he was shot in the back of his head as he drove away from police officers who were trying to serve a warrant last Wednesday.
And while being the subject of a warrant is not a death sentence, Fox News’ subsequent coverage might suggest otherwise.
Fox News reported that the warrant said an informant allegedly bought illegal drugs from Brown for more than a year. Brown has “a criminal rap sheet over 180 pages long and dating back to May 1988,” Fox News wrote.
But, of course, whether true or not, that information is irrelevant and certainly did not pose or create a threat to the lives of the officers who shot at a man who was reportedly only holding a steering wheel at the time he was killed.
Not to mention, there were no reports of drugs — or guns — being found in Brown’s car, making Fox News’ report the very definition of irrelevant. In fact, if there was anything illegal being done by Brown or on his person or in his car, the Fox News article would have prominently mentioned it. So would the cops. But in a telling sign nearly a week after the shooting, that has not happened.
Never mind the fact that fleeing from law enforcement is not a legal justification for using lethal a nonviolent suspect.
The Fox News coverage came on the same day that Brown family attorney Bakari Sellers said those who viewed the edited and redacted version video of the shooting were shown “disrespect.” He said Pasquotank County Attorney R. Michael Cox said he was “not fucking going to be bullied” into showing the entire video, which is reportedly just 10 seconds longer. The family has been demanding to see the raw footage since the shooting last week.
Another attorney for Brown’s family told the Associated Press that the 20-second video showed the police were the ones who went on the offensive without justifiable provocation.
“He was not threatening them in any kind of fashion,” Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said of Brown. She also said Brown was shot in the back of the head.
She said there were up to eight officers involved, with all of them giving conflicting orders to Brown.
“They’re shooting and saying let me see your hands at the same time,” Cherry-Lassiter told the AP.
She also told NBC News that Brown was not resisting nor was he posing any threat at the time he was shot.
“Andrew had his hands on his steering wheel. He was not reaching for anything, he wasn’t touching anything,” Cherry-Lassiter said. “He had his hands firmly on the steering wheel. They run up to his vehicle shooting. He still stood there, sat there in his vehicle with his hands on the steering wheel while being shot at.”
Brown’s son said after viewing the footage that his father was “executed,” according to NBC News.
“It ain’t right, it ain’t right at all,” Khalil Ferebee said.
Assassinating the character of a Black victim of preventable police violence is nothing new, but typically it’s waged by the law enforcement agency at the center of the death.
That was the case with George Floyd, who was portrayed early on by police as a drug addict whose addiction and personal health caused his own death, not Derek Chauvin‘s knee on his neck for more than nine minutes.
The Dallas Police Department also tried to demonize Botham Jean for having a small amount of marijuana in his apartment when an off-duty cop entered and killed him after mistaking it for her home. As David Dennis accurately summed up in a 2018 op-ed, the narrative showed “how to lynch a dead Black man.”
This is America.