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Brown family prepares to file federal lawsuit, pushes for release of more evidence

Andrew Brown
Posted at 4:54 PM, May 20, 2021

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. — A day after the district attorney announced he would not be filing charges against the deputies who shot and killed Andrew Brown Jr., an attorney for Brown's family said they're preparing to file a federal lawsuit and are pushing for the release of more of the evidence, including unredacted body camera videos.

"[We're] very disappointed in the decision yesterday," said Brown family attorney Chantel Lassiter. "The family is heartbroken and discouraged at this point. The family just wishes it would've been a different outcome."

District Attorney Andrew Womble played portions of four body cameras during a news conference on Tuesday. In a key piece of the footage, Womble says Brown is shown driving towards a deputy, forcing the deputy to put his hand on the hood of Brown's car to get out of the way.

"The facts of this case clearly illustrate the officers who used deadly force on Mr. Andrew Brown, Jr. did so reasonably and only when a violent felon used a deadly weapon to place their lives in danger," said Womble.

Lassiter said Wednesday Brown was trying to escape. She said she stands byher earlier statements saying Brown was executed.

"We saw Andrew Brown Jr. driving away, moving to the left, the opposite direction of the deputies. Any interaction was done basically by the deputies approaching the car," she said. "He was no longer a threat at that point."

Steve Freidland, a law professor at Elon University, said there could be different explanations for what the video shows.

"Videos aren't always the answer. They sometimes create questions," he said.

Womble said he relied on other information as well, including interviews with the deputies. He acknowledged the video could lead to different interpretations.

"Everyone could perceive something differently, and until you break it down frame-by-frame, some of the actions are pretty hard to see," Womble said.

During a news conference in the days following the shooting, Lassiter said deputies ran up to Brown shooting after reviewing a 20-second clip of the footage. News 3 asked how she would characterize that now.

"I only saw 20 seconds of redacted footage and I'm not sure when that 20 seconds started and the aspect of the timing, but I saw what I saw," she said. "If they would've released everything, we would have everything so we could have an informed conversation."

Going forward, it's up to a judge to release more of the footage due to North Carolina law.

"This law was intended to control what happens to body cam footage," said Freidland. "It has had, however, unintended consequences. When you tell people you can't see something, people want to see it even more and that's what we've seen in this case."

This story was originally published by Brendan Ponton at WTKR.