OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
A city in the state of North Carolina is having to batten down the hatches as the police bodycam video of a shooting is about to be released.
“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.
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.
The police taking their time to show the video to everyone is not helping its cause of keeping the peace.
Protests have been peaceful so far but, if the shooting of Brown was justified, why not show the video immediately?
Pasquotank County Sheriff’s deputies were serving Brown Jr. a warrant on Wednesday when he started to drive away from the scene.
That is when police opened fire and struck him in the back, according to their own transmissions on the police radio.
“If the shooting and the killing were self-defense or proper use of force, then show the truth,” the Rev. William J. Barber II said on Saturday, The New York Times reported. “If it wasn’t — show the truth. But Sheriff, D.A., law enforcement, you can’t just shut up. You must speak up.”
Brown Jr.’s family attorneys say that he was not armed when he was shot by police.
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“To my understanding, Mr. Brown was not armed, and the bullets entered into the back of the vehicle,” attorney Harry Daniels said.
“We know people want answers,” Sheriff Wooten said in a video message. “We know you’re angry. We understand and respect that. We ask for your patience and your support as we work to do the right thing.”
The NAACP has demanded the resignation of the sheriff after the shooting.
“We are not requesting — we are demanding the resignation of Sheriff Wooten,” Pasquotank County N.A.A.C.P. President Keith Rivers said.