A judge ruled on Wednesday that Andrew Brown Jr.‘s son and other family members are entitled to view all of the bodycam videos of last week’s deadly police shooting in North Carolina. However, the videos’ immediate release to the public has been denied.
The ruling came after a prosecutor argued in court that Brown used his car to attack officers who were attempting to serve a search warrant last week in Elizabeth City. It was the first time that law enforcement officials described Brown as the aggressor and pointed to a possible change in legal tactics after autopsy results showed he was killed from a bullet to the back of his head.
The allegation was made in court during a hearing centered on when the full bodycam footage from the April 21 shooting in Elizabeth City would be released.
District Attorney Andrew Womble told Superior Court Judge Jeffery Foster that the video footage shows Brown’s car hitting Pasquotank County deputies twice. That footage must have been among the 10-seconds that were edited out of the 20-second bodycam “snippet” Brown’s family was begrudgingly shown Tuesday.
Brown’s family never made mention of that portion of the footage they were shown and instead focused on how he had his hands on the steering wheel and “was not threatening” police when he was shot at least five times. They repeated their demands to be shown the complete, raw and unedited bodycam footage.
The family is expected to have access to the footage within 10 days of Foster’s ruling.
In court on Wednesday, Womble reportedly said releasing the bodycam footage would negatively influence and future legal proceedings.
“You can’t swing a skunk in front of a group of people and tell them not to smell it,” Womble told Foster.
The judge saw four bodycam videos, not just the one viewed by Brown’s family. Foster delayed the public release of the video footage by up to 45 days.
In Pasquotank County, body camera footage cannot be released without a court order.
Bakari Sellers, who is representing Brown’s family, said those who viewed the edited video on Monday were shown “disrespect.” He said Pasquotank County Attorney R. Michael Cox claimed he was “not fucking going to be bullied” into showing the entire video.
Brown’s family member and their attorneys have suggested there is a coverup at play by the police who are trying to conceal evidence of their misconduct and wrongdoing.
Ben Crump said Monday if the video showed Brown doing something wrong, police would have no problem showing the footage.
Police can’t “sweep this under the rug,” Crump said Monday, emphasizing how taxpayers who voted for local police officers to wear bodycams should be resentful that the footage won’t be released “when it’s most critically needed.”
In the meantime, the FBI has opened up a civil rights investigation into the shooting.
Results from an independent autopsy made public on Tuesday showed that Brown — who was driving away from police when he was shot — was killed from a penetrating gunshot wound to the head.
Family attorney Wayne Kendall said Brown was shot a total of five times.
“The first, initial shots were through the front windshield of the vehicle,” Kendall said, describing Brown as having “his arms up on the steering wheel.”
Brown was shot four times in his right arm, but “they were not fatal shots,” Kendall said, explaining Brown was still able to back up and turn around his car before continuing to try and flee.
“At that time he was hit in the back of the head,” Kendall said. “That is the fatal bullet wound. A penetrating bullet wound to the skull.”
Kendall called it “a straight up execution” while noting that shooting into a moving vehicle that doesn’t pose a mortal threat is a violation of police policy.
The shot to Brown’s head caused him to lose control and crash into a tree, Kendall said, adding that he suspects police may have fired more shots after the crash.