A day after the fatal shooting of a Black man by a sheriff’s deputy serving a warrant in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, few details have been released by authorities, but a crisis intervention consultant was hired Thursday by county officials looking to prepare for any fallout.
Protesters and at least one City Council member have demanded that body-camera footage be released immediately – but Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy S. Wooten II has so far stressed that no timeline has been determined for the video's release and authorities will wait on the findings of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
Andrew Brown Jr. was "fatally wounded" as Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant in the 400 block of Perry Street in Elizabeth City around 8:30 a.m., Wooten said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. The North Carolina Bureau of Investigation, an outside agency, was "immediately contacted" and is conducting the investigation into the matter, the sheriff added.
The sheriff confirmed that it was a Pasquotank County deputy involved in the shooting and that the individual has been placed on administrative leave. He also confirmed there is body-camera footage of the fatal shooting. There we no other injuries, he said.
Despite being pressed by reporters, Wooten declined to confirm the number of shots fired or whether the warrant being served was for drug-related offenses. He said deputies from both Pasquotank and Dare counties were serving the warrant at the time of the shooting. He did not disclose Brown’s age. Authorities have not commented on the race of the deputy involved.
"We’re going to let the North Carolina SBI do their job and we will have further information later on," Wooten told reporters. The sheriff said he did not have a timeline as to when the body-camera footage would be released, as it is "tremendously early" and all the questions being asked "will come out."
Eyewitnesses told local news outlets that Brown was shot while trying to drive away from his home and that deputies fired multiple shots at his vehicle, but authorities have not publicly confirmed those details.
"The sheriff’s office has complete trust in the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation and its ability to complete this investigation," Wooten said. "The sheriff’s office will be transparent and take the proper actions based on the findings of the SBI’s investigation. I have put together a team of local law enforcement to come to Pasquotank County to ensure the safety and protection of citizens in our community."
Nearly 200 demonstrators gathered in Elizabeth City, a municipality of about 18,000 people 165 miles northeast of Raleigh, Wednesday night following Brown’s death, the Raleigh News & Observer reported. City Council called an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon following the deadly shooting, and six law enforcement officers stood in front of the door to City Hall as crowds gathered outside.
As council members emerged around 7 p.m. Wednesday, Councilman Darius Horton exited wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt and assured the crowd that the investigation would continue. "We don’t have the information, but it needs to be put out in the forefront. The body cameras, that needs to be released immediately," Horton said during the meeting, the newspaper reported.
"If we didn’t have this emergency meeting, they wouldn’t have had this opportunity," Councilman Michael Brooks said of the crowds of protesters. "If they would stay focused and let the SBI finish the investigation. They have to vent right now. Otherwise, we’ll be fine."
"There are a lot of people hurting in our city," Councilman Gabriel Adkins said at the meeting, according to the News & Observer. "I’m afraid. You know, I mean let’s be real. We talk about transparency, I’m gonna be transparent," he continued. "I’m afraid as a Black man walking around this city, driving my car down the road, trying to make sure that I’m driving the speed limit, trying to make sure that I wear my seat belt, trying to make sure that do everything right."
"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," North Carolina NAACP President Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman said in a statement Thursday regarding Brown’s death.
City manager of Elizabeth City, Montré Freeman, told Spectrum News 1 on Thursday that Pasquotank County manager Sparty Hammet and Pasquotank county commissioners have contracted a "crisis intervention consultant" to handle the aftermath of Brown’s fatal shooting.
Among those gathered at the scene of the shooting was Keith Rivers, president of the Pasquotank County chapter of the NAACP.
"When is it going to stop? We just got a verdict yesterday," Rivers said in a phone interview with the Associated Press, referring to the guilty verdicts handed down Tuesday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd. "Is it open season now? At some point, it has to stop. We have to start holding the people in charge accountable."
The Elizabeth City Police Department, Alcohol Law Enforcement, North Carolina Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies are aiding in the effort to protect the community, Wooten said.
State investigators were "deployed immediately" after being contacted by the sheriff’s office and began conducting interviews, Masha Rogers, special agent in charge for the Northeastern District for the State Bureau of Investigation, said at the same press conference. "We will conduct a thorough and complete investigation utilizing all available resources," Rogers cotinued. "It’s very early in the investigation and we will not be able to answer any details about this case."
Rogers said state agents are "fact finders" and "at which time all casework and interviews are completed" will turn their findings and the SBI case file over to R. Andrew Womble, the district attorney for the First Prosecutorial District, who will make a determination about any possible criminal charges.
"What we’re looking for at this time are factual answers, and not fast answers," Womble said. "We’re going to wait for the full and complete investigation … there will not be a rush to judgment.
"As this is an active criminal investigation, I’m going to refrain from making comments about or speculating on facts of events that have transpired at this point."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.