HERTFORD, NC – Relatives of Andrew Brown Jr. paid their final respects at a public screening on Sunday to the man whose fatal shooting by Sheriff’s deputies in nearby Elizabeth City has drawn allegations of “execution” and called national attention to these calm eastern North Carolina. communities.
Invitation-only funeral services for Brown, a 42-year-old black man, begin at noon Monday at Fountain of Life Church. A staunch advocate of social justice, the Reverend Al Sharpton was to deliver the eulogy.
Brown was shot five times, including one in the back of the head, when Pasquotank County MPs attempted to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants at his home on April 21.
Sunday’s viewing drew dozens of people to Horton Funeral Home, where upbeat gospel music played on a small retro CD player as a slide show by Brown greeted people as they entered.
Brown’s coffin was open from the waist and a thin veil covered his face. Slower, darker music played in the background near his coffin. Another slideshow played over his feet.
Brown’s death sparked protests and a legal battle over the release of body camera images of the shooting. After days of legal wrangling, some family members and lawyer Chantel Cherry-Lassiter were allowed to watch around 20 seconds of redacted video. They claim Brown was executed and request access to more of the video.
“My dad was executed just for trying to save his own life,” said Khalil Ferebee, who has viewed the clip and is one of Brown’s seven children. “These officers didn’t hurt him at all. ”
Andrew Brown Jr.’s family say police ‘executed’ him, only showed the family a 20 second video clip
Cherry-Lassiter said it shows Brown with his hands on the wheel of his car and not a threat to MPs. She says the footage shows MPs running towards Brown’s car during filming, and that “he finally decides to try to get away and he backs up, not going towards the officers at all.”
District Attorney Andrew called Cherry-Lassiter’s account “patently false.” Womble says Brown’s vehicle is seen in contact with officers.
“It is then and only then that you hear gunshots,” Womble said.
Judge Jeff Foster Brown has ruled the family will be allowed to see more footage this week. None have yet been released, despite legal efforts by a coalition of media organizations that includes the USA TODAY Network. Brown said he would reconsider the request to release the tapes in 30 to 45 days.
‘Free the bands’: Protesters demand footage after the sheriff identifies lawmakers involved in the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr.
Womble said he believed the State Investigation Bureau would be able to complete its independent investigation by then.
Bacon reported from Arlington, Va. Contributing: Ayano Nagaishi, Staunton (Va.) News Leader; Jorge Ortiz, USA TODAY