Seven deputies are on administrative leave, two have resigned and one retired in the aftermath of the shooting, sheriff says
Published April 24, 2021, 10:53 p.m.
Brown, who was Black, was shot and killed Wednesday morning by Pasquotank County sheriff's deputies when they attempted to serve him with an arrest warrant in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office said.
The shooting occurred as protests are held across the nation over the deaths of Black people at the hands of law enforcement officers.
Protesters have gathered in Elizabeth City as well, asking for the body camera footage to be released and answers to what happened in Brown's death.
Officials have said that the law prevents them from publicly releasing footage without a court order. But when Brown's family met with Sheriff Tommy Wooten, they thought the footage would be shown to them, the family told CNN's Dianne Gallagher.
Wooten told them he would not show them the video until the investigation is completed, they said. Wooten told CNN on Friday that the district attorney will not release the video so that it doesn't hinder the investigation.
What they were told, Brown's aunt Betty Banks said, was that authorities did not find any drugs or weapons in Brown's car or in his house.
Wooten confirmed to CNN he spoke with the family Friday but would not divulge the contents of the conversation.
Seven deputies have been placed on administrative leave, two have resigned and one retired in the aftermath of the shooting, Wooten said.
Not all the deputies who have been placed on administrative leave discharged their firearms, but were all part of the warrant operation, he said.
The few details that have been released
First responders were heard on dispatch audio moments after the shooting saying that a man had been hit with gunshot wounds to the back.
Audio of the call, posted to the archives of the website Broadcastify, includes a dispatcher saying crews are responding to a call of "shots fired" and an individual can then be heard saying "we do have a subject who was hit."
Law enforcement has released few details about the Brown shooting. Authorities have not said where or how many times Brown was shot.
Later a first responder says, "Be advised EMS has one male, 42 years of age, gunshot to the back."
Another person says the man has "gunshot wounds."
Wooten said in a video message Thursday that if the evidence shows that any of the deputies involved violated the law or any department policies, they will be held accountable.
"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," Wooten said.
The warrant being served on Brown was related to felony drug charges, Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg said. The task force also had a search warrant, Wooten said Friday.
Wooten said there were "many" body cameras being worn.
"We really don't know any more than we did before," Banks told CNN. Wooten offered his condolences at the beginning and throughout their meeting, she said.
Jharod and Khalil Ferebee, Brown's two eldest sons, told CNN on Friday that they have hired well-known civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump to represent them.
Calls for footage
Wooten said he apologized to the family for not showing the footage and told them he was trying to follow the right procedures.
In a video message livestreamed by the sheriff's office on Saturday, Wooten said he does not have the power to release the video, but says he is considering filing a motion for a judge to decide.
"Because we want transparency, we want the body camera footage made public," Wooten said.
Wooten said he is working to confirm with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation that releasing the video will not undermine its investigation. If the agency says it won't, then Wooten said he will file a motion in court as soon as Monday to have the footage released.
A judge will hear the motion and the county's district attorney will also present his perspective on the effect of releasing the video, according to Wooten.
"We know people want answers. We know you're angry. We understand and respect that. But we're following a process that protects the investigation to ensure fairness for all," Wooten said. "We ask for your patience and your support as you work to do the right thing. We want transparency, accountability and peace."
The sheriff's office is asking the North Carolina Sheriff's Association to appoint an outside sheriff's office to conduct an internal affairs investigation of everyone involved in the incident, Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg said.
Fogg spoke directly to the Brown family during the video message, saying, "We can never know your pain that you are going through. We remain committed to transparency and accountability and we're praying for you."
The Elizabeth City Council at an emergency meeting Friday called for the deputies' bodycam footage to be released. Gov. Roy Cooper also called for the public to see the video as quickly as possible.
Earlier on Saturday, Elizabeth City Mayor Bettie Parker said that no one from the Elizabeth City Police Department was involved in serving the arrest warrant or search warrant or the shooting of Brown on Wednesday morning.
Parker told CNN's Natasha Chen during a news conference Saturday that she has been reaching out to county officials and wanted to give them a chance to "control the narrative" since the city was not involved in the incident.
"We are demanding transparency and accountability," Parker said.
Meanwhile, protesters gathered for a third day, blocking a few intersections as early as Friday afternoon.
Protest organizer Kirk Rivers told CNN that demonstrators want to see the 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?"
City manager Montré Freeman complimented the peaceful actions of protesters but said he was worried something could happen if they don't get answers soon.
"This thing is going to have a ripple effect the longer it's out here," he said.
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