Protests over deputies’ fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. kicked off for a third straight day Friday in North Carolina’s Elizabeth City, with demonstrators calling for authorities to release officers’ body camera footage of Wednesday’s killing.
Demonstrators stood in the streets early Friday afternoon, blocking a few intersections in a commercial section of the city of roughly 18,000 people.
The Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office has said deputies were trying to serve an arrest warrant on Brown, who is Black, on Wednesday morning when the shooting happened. Many questions still surround the incident that follows other protests across the nation over the deaths of Black men at the hands of police officers.
“Our deputies attempted to serve the arrest warrant. They fired the shots. They’ve been put on administrative leave until we know all the facts,” Sheriff Tommy Wooten said in a video message Thursday, without saying how many deputies fired shots or were on leave.
Protest organizer Kirk Rivers told CNN’s Brian Todd that demonstrators want to see officers’ body camera footage and will keep protesting until authorities make clear what happened.
“Come out and talk to us. We just want people to come out and talk to us,” Rivers said Thursday. “Are you just going to continue to let us assume what took place?”
But body camera footage of the incident cannot be released without a court order, the district attorney and the Pasquotank County attorney said in a joint statement Thursday.
“We must follow the law and the law prohibits us from publicly releasing the body worn camera footage,” District Attorney Andrew Womble and Pasquotank County Attorney R. Michael Cox said. “The law does allow a private viewing by the family of Mr. Brown we are working with their attorney to arrange that.”
Wooten said that if the evidence shows that any of the deputies involved violated the laws or any department policies, they will be held accountable.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has said it is leading a probe into the shooting.
Accounts from family and witnesses
The warrant being served on Brown, 42, was related to felony drug charges, the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Department said on Thursday.
Fogg said Brown also had a history of resisting arrest. CNN could not immediately verify any previous resisting arrest charges against Brown.
Neighbors told CNN that deputies opened fire on the vehicle that Brown was driving, though it was unclear if the deputies started to fire before or after the car was in motion.
Demetria Williams, who lives just down the road, said she initially heard one shot, and then ran outside to look.
“By the time I got (outside), they was standing behind his car. He was trying to get away,” Williams said.
“And they stood behind him,” said Williams. “I couldn’t tell you what, who shot him. I couldn’t do that. But one of the officers or maybe a couple shot him.”
Williams said Brown was driving, causing mud to splatter on the side of a home. A neighbor who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity gave the same account. The mud on the home and a deep tire mark were still visible on Thursday when CNN visited.
“It is a horrible thing to witness,” the neighbor who spoke on condition of anonymity told CNN. She said she heard a shot, went to get her phone, and then heard more gunshots, describing them as “rapid fire.” Neither this neighbor nor Williams said how much time elapsed between the first shot and the rest.
Both Williams and the witness who asked for anonymity said the vehicle, after driving through an open lot, crossed another street, struck a tree and came to rest. Two neighbors tell CNN that deputies pulled Brown out and attempted lifesaving medical intervention.
A man who lives at the home where the vehicle came to rest said authorities had recovered a bullet from his home. The entry point just to the right of his front door was still visible.
While authorities have not given information on what led up to the incident, and specifically, whether Brown was armed, his family says he never carried a gun.
“That’s my favorite nephew. He never carried a gun. He didn’t own a gun,” Andrew Brown’s uncle Pete Brown told CNN.
Brown’s aunt Clarissa Gibson said she initially heard about the shooting on the news before learning it was her nephew who was shot and killed. Gibson told CNN on Wednesday she believes Brown was unarmed at the time of the shooting because he didn’t typically carry a gun.
Brown’s former girlfriend Patrice Revelle, who said she shares five children with Brown, told CNN that “Drew didn’t own a gun” and “he didn’t carry a gun.”
Revelle, who was not present at the time of the shooting, was adamant Brown would not have been armed.
Wooten said he will not comment on the number of shots fired because an investigation will reveal those details.
The North Carolina NAACP issued a statement calling for an “immediate review of the body cameras,” as well as for a thorough investigation of the sheriff’s department.
“Here we are again outraged to hear of yet another Black man dead, allegedly at the hands of those who are supposed to protect and serve. The murder of Andrew Brown in Elizabeth City, NC, Black man … and a father of 10 on the morning after the guilty on every count verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin screams for increased scrutiny of the policing system,” officials with the state’s NAACP said, adding it would “not stand idly by and watch North Carolina become another Minnesota.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Andrew Brown’s age. He was 42.