A North Carolina deputy shot and killed a Black man while serving a search warrant Wednesday, authorities said, spurring an outcry from community members who demanded law enforcement accountability and the immediate release of body camera footage reports ABC News.
Authorities wouldn’t provide details of the shooting but an eyewitness said that Andrew Brown Jr. was shot while trying to drive away, and that deputies fired at him multiple times. The car skidded out of Brown’s yard and eventually hit a tree, said Demetria Williams, who lives on the same street.
Williams said after hearing one gunshot, she ran outside, where she saw other shots being fired at the car.
“When they opened the door he was already dead,” Williams told the Associated Press. “He was slumped over.” She said officers tried to perform chest compressions on him.
A car authorities removed from the scene appeared to have multiple bullet holes and a broken rear windshield.
The Pasquotank County Sheriff’s deputy was placed on leave pending a review by the State Bureau of Investigation, Sheriff Tommy Wooten II said at a news conference. Court records show Brown was 42 years old and had a history of drug charges and a misdemeanor drug possession conviction.
Dozens of people gathered at the scene of the shooting in Elizabeth City, a municipality of about 18,000 people 170 miles (274 km) northeast of Raleigh, where they expressed their anger and rallied around Brown’s family members. A large crowd later stood outside City Hall while the City Council held an emergency meeting, some holding signs proclaiming “Black Lives Matter” and “Stop killing unarmed Black Men.” As the evening wore on, a group gathered in the parking lot of the sheriff’s office and a crowd that grew to more than 200 blocked traffic on a main thoroughfare of the city, forcing cars to turn around.
“The police didn’t have to shoot my baby,” said Martha McCullen, an aunt of Brown who said she raised him after his parents died. McCullen stood on the stoop of Brown’s rental home, her eyes moist with emotion.
“Andrew Brown was a good person,” she said. “He was about to get his kids back. He was a good father. Now his kids won’t never see him again.”
Wooten said the deputy shot Brown about 8:30 a.m. The deputy was wearing an active body camera at the time of the shooting, said the sheriff, who declined to identify the officer or say how many shots he fired, citing a pending review by the State Bureau of Investigation. Wooten also did not say what the warrant was for.
Williams, the eyewitness who also was among those demonstrating outside City Hall on Wednesday evening, said Brown, who was known by neighbors as “Drew,” wasn’t a violent person.
“I didn’t believe that (officers) really did that because he wasn’t a threat to them. He was driving off even though he was trying to get away,” Williams said.