A North Carolina sheriff has identified the three MPs who opened fire on Andrew Brown Jr. last week, returning four to active duty, authorities said Thursday.
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten has identified 10 MPs who converged on Brown’s home in Elizabeth City while serving a warrant to arrest him for a drug crime.
The death of the 42-year-old black man is one of the latest law enforcement shootings to raise questions about police use of force, especially in cases involving racial minorities.
“I promised the citizens of this county that I would be transparent and accountable in this matter. I have been,” Wooten said in a statement.
“I asked the court to release the body camera images to the public. I insisted on outside investigations to ensure impartiality. And now, I communicate the names of the deputies present on the spot. I will continue to be transparent whenever I can – without interfering. in independent surveys.
Investigator Daniel Meads, Deputy Robert Morgan and Corporal Aaron Lewellyn fired shots at Brown and will remain on administrative leave during the investigation, Wooten said.
The other four MPs involved in the deadly encounter had been placed on leave, but were returned to active duty.
Lewellyn did not immediately return phone and text messages requesting comment. Meads and Morgan could not be reached at the phone numbers that were publicly listed for them.
“After reviewing the preliminary findings of the independent investigators who conducted the internal review and after carefully reviewing the body camera images of the incident with my own staff, it is evident that four of the MPs never shot with it. their weapons and deserve to be reinstated in active service. Wooten said.
“Further investigation is needed on the three MPs who fired their guns and they will remain on administrative leave pending the completion of the internal investigation and / or criminal investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation.”
Wooten also identified three other MPs who were at the scene and who have now left the force. A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office previously said their resignations were unrelated to the shooting.
While Wooten pleaded for county residents not to “rush to judgment” and allow state investigators to investigate the incident, the sheriff fended off “deception and lies” which he said him, are put forward by “outside agitators and instigators of social media.”
The county even published a “fact-check” website and fired Brown’s family for saying Brown was “executed” by law enforcement.
“This is unproven hyperbole that only inflames the community and – should this ever go to court – could skew would-be jurors and possibly interfere with a fair trial for anyone involved. “, according to the website. “We want answers as much as the public, but we have to wait for independent investigations to progress.”
A representative for the Brown family could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
A North Carolina judge on Wednesday blocked the immediate release of body-worn camera footage until the investigation into Brown’s murder was completed.
Wooten supported the immediate release of the video while District Attorney Andrew Womble objected.
Attorney HP Williams, representing law enforcement involved in Brown’s arrest, said his clients also objected to the immediate release of the unredacted footage.
“The officers are very distraught with what happened,” William said Wednesday. “They feel for Andrew Brown’s family.”
He added, “We wouldn’t oppose disclosure because I believe they have a right to disclosure if the faces of the officers involved are redacted. There have already been threats and attempts to identify who may or may not be agents. “
During a hearing Wednesday on the possible release of this video, Womble revealed that Brown’s car could be seen in footage moving back and forth then forward, making contact with MPs each time before opening fire. .
Helen Kwong contributed.