DA: Shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. was justified

You may have heard about this shooting which took place in North Carolina back in April. The case became a source of public debate days later after family members and their attorneys were shown a brief clip of the bodycam video. The family said the video showed Brown Jr. being “executed.”

“My dad got executed just by trying to save his own life,” Brown’s son, Khalil Ferebee, said after he and several family members watched the video. “The officers were in no harm of him at all. It just messed up how this happened.”

Attorneys for the family also referred to the shooting as an “assassination.” This clip from a few days after the shooting gives a sense of the controversy this generated.

Today, the local DA gave a press conference in which he announced that after reviewing the case, the shooting of Brown Jr. was justified and none of the deputies involved will be charged with anything.

District Attorney Andrew Womble said Brown’s shooting death, “while tragic,” was “justified due to his actions.”

“No officers will be criminally charged,” Womble said. “The officers’ actions were consistent with their training and fully supported under law.”…

Chance Lynch, an attorney for the family, said last week that the video shows that deputies fired at Brown, prompting him to move his vehicle away from them. After the shooting, Brown’s vehicle was riddled with bullet holes, Lynch said.

I watched most of DA Womble’s announcement. His version of events, backed by stills from the bodycam video, is different than what the family attorney has claimed happened. Sheriff’s deputies had a search warrant and an arrest warrant for Andrew Brown Jr. related to cocaine distribution. When they arrived at his house he was in his BMW apparently talking on the phone. Deputies surrounded the car and ordered Brown to show his hands and exit the vehicle. Instead, Brown dropped his phone and reversed the car. In the process he made contact with one of the deputies who was standing alongside the driver’s side window.

However the DA pointed out that when Brown stopped the car because he couldn’t reverse any further, no shots had been fired. Then Brown put the car in gear and drove forward toward one of the deputies who put his hand on the hood in order to move out of the way. That’s when the first shot was fired and that shot went through the front windshield of the car.

CNN’s account of what was presented by the DA is very similar. They also note how different this account was from what the family and their lawyers have claimed.

The videos show that armed law enforcement officers arrived to arrest Brown, a 42-year-old Black man, and surrounded him as he sat inside his vehicle. Brown reversed his car into a corner, pulling a deputy off his feet, and then accelerated forward in his attempt to flee, forcing a deputy to jump out of the way, the videos show.

“When you employ a car in a way that puts officers’ lives in danger, that is a threat,” Womble said…

The conclusion is a stark contrast to commentary from Brown’s family and their attorneys, who said the body-camera and dash-cam videos of the shooting show Brown was not a threat to the officers.

“It was absolutely, unequivocally unjustified,” attorney Chance Lynch said last week. “Our legal team is more committed now to pursue justice … because what we saw today was unconstitutional and it was unjustifiable.”

Here’s the full presentation by DA Womble. We’ll have to wait and see if this description of events and the decision not to charge the officers leads to protests or any change in tone from the family and their attorneys.

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