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As citizens and the media are demanding to see video of the police-involved shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. a judge has denied the request.
The decision came on Wednesday as tensions in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where the shooting took place, are growing daily.
Judge Jeffrey Foster denied a request from the media to release the police body camera footage, saying that the media companies do not have standing in the case and that the videos are “of a highly sensitive nature,” The New York Post reported.
Here's part of Pasquotank County Judge Jeffrey Foster's ruling on bodycam footage in the Andrew Brown Jr. case.
He ruled the video be held from public release for "no less than 30 days and no more than 45 days."
— WAVY TV 10 (@WAVY_News) April 28, 2021
Brown’s family viewed a redacted version of the footage Monday morning — but it was only a 20-second clip of the fatal police shooting in Elizabeth City.
The deadly encounter unfolded Wednesday when Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies who were serving a warrant on Brown, 42, opened fire as he drove away…
Sheriff Tommy Wooten said his officers were attempting to serve Brown, a dad of seven, with drug-related search and arrest warrants, using information from an informant including on drug purchases, USA Today reported, citing court documents.
District Attorney Andrew Womble said that he disagreed with Brown’s family and its attorneys that the car was stationary when police opened fire.
He said that he witnessed on the video Brown’s vehicle striking officers before they shot at him.
“As it backs up, it does make contact with law enforcement officers,” the district attorney said, as he said the care stopped, then moved again.
“The next movement of the car is forward, it is in the direction of law enforcement, and makes contact with law enforcement. It is then and only then that you hear shots,” the district attorney said.
The judge said that the hold on releasing the videos will lst no less than 30 days and no more than 45 days, meaning that the video will be seen by the media within the next two months.
“The release at this time would create a serious threat to the fair, impartial and orderly administration of justice,” the judge said. “Confidentiality is necessary to protect either an active internal or criminal investigation or a potential internal or criminal investigation.”
“The court will, in its discretion, consider at that time further release of the video based on the factors as they exist at that time,” he said.
The attorney for the media companies, Michael J. Tadych, argued that there was an “absolute public interest” in seeing the videos.
“The petitioners are not here to indict or vindicate law enforcement. The petitioners are not here to indict or vindicate Mr. Brown,” the attorney said.
“They are here in the interest of advocating for transparency in the hopes of aiding a national conversation we find ourselves in about citizens’ interaction with police,” he said.
In preparation for the possible release of the body camera footage, Elizabeth City declared a state of emergency.
“Mayor Bettie Parker declared a state of emergency in Elizabeth City ahead of deputies releasing bodycam footage of Andrew Brown Jr.’s death, an incident that officials say could cause civil unrest,” WTKR reported.
A planned peaceful protest began at 7 a.m. at the Pasquotank County Public Safety Building on Monday.
The video is set to be viewed by Brown’s family and their attorney at the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office at 11:30 a.m., and a news conference will immediately follow.
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Officials note in a document, that protesters have the right to peacefully assemble and the City of Elizabeth City will protect that right.
According to a news release, all law enforcement officers, emergency services personnel, and city employees are subject to Elizabeth City’s control and must comply with the City of Elizabeth City’s Emergency Operation Plan for public safety.
“My co-council has spoken with the family directly about the issue, but I do know that they are pleased and have requested to see the recording,” the family’s attorney Wayne Kendall said.
“It’s part of the healing process to know what happened to a loved one who was tragically gunned down in the manner Mr. Brown was gunned down, so it’s a start but it’s bit much to say that it will bring closure,” he said.
“We’re glad that state law allows us to provide a private viewing of the body camera footage to the family of Mr. Brown and after we received their request on Sunday evening, we began working immediately to make that happen as soon as possible. The law also allows us to blur some faces on the video and that process takes time. Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. Section 132- 1.4A, this may be done when necessary to protect an active internal investigation. As soon as these redactions are complete, we will allow the family to view this footage. We hope this occurs today, but the actual time will be driven by the completion of the redactions. We are also continuing to seek transparency within the law and continue our efforts to get a court order that would allow the video to be released to the public,” Pasquotank County Attorney R. Michael Cox said.