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Autopsy shows Black man was shot in the back of the head by N.C. deputies, attorneys say

The family of Andrew Brown Jr. said an independent autopsy shows the man was shot five times. (Video: Reuters)
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Sheriff’s deputies in Elizabeth City, N.C., fatally shot a Black man in the back of his head as he was driving away, lawyers for his family said Tuesday, citing an independent autopsy.

The findings about how Andrew Brown Jr. was killed come a day after family members watched an approximately 20-second video clip from a deputy’s body-worn camera. The fatal shooting at the 42-year-old’s home set off days of protests pressing the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office for more information. The sheriff’s office, which said officers were executing a search warrant and an arrest warrant on felony drug charges at Brown’s home, has declined to answer questions about whether Brown was armed, complying or fleeing.

The family claimed Tuesday that the autopsy, which they requested, supported their claim that Brown was “executed.” An attorney for the family, Wayne Kendall, said it shows that deputies did not follow best practices to avoid shooting into a moving vehicle that did not pose a threat. Brown was shot a total of five times, four times in the right arm and once in the back of the head, according to the autopsy.

The sheriff and chief deputy did not immediately respond to questions from The Washington Post about the autopsy’s findings. Seven deputies, who were not named, have since been placed on administrative leave, the sheriff’s office previously said.

The FBI said it had opened a federal civil rights inquiry, and Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said he has recommended that a special prosecutor handle the investigation, although state law doesn’t require that step.

In a news conference in front of the sheriff’s office in Elizabeth City on Tuesday, Brown’s family and their attorneys reiterated that he was unarmed and that his hands, firmly grasping his steering wheel, were visible as deputies swarmed his car in his driveway Wednesday morning, firing at Brown as they approached. He crashed into a tree and died within minutes with the bullet lodged in his brain, the attorneys said.

Family of Black man shot by N.C. deputies says it appears he was ‘executed’ in body-camera footage

“Yesterday, I said he was executed,” said Brown’s son, Khalil Ferebee. “This autopsy report shows me that’s correct.”

Protesters emotionally shouted over those who spoke, demanding the arrest of deputies responsible for Brown’s death and acknowledgment of the man who died.

“Say his name,” the crowd shouted. A similar chant has echoed across the country as racial justice demonstrators have called for recognition of other Black people killed by police, including George Floyd in Minneapolis; Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio; and Breonna Taylor in Louisville. Brown’s killing came one day after former police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of Floyd’s murder and Bryant, 16, was shot and killed by a police officer.

Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, one of the attorneys representing Brown’s family, said the community was hurting after officials shared little about how Brown died.

“This is pain,” she said. “A lot of times pain is interpreted as rebellion. Call it what it is: It’s pain.”

The family’s attorneys also referred to a video obtained by WAVY News from a city-owned camera that captured the moment before gunfire erupted. Deputies can be seen driving up to Brown’s driveway in a truck, jumping out and shouting, “Hands up.” Brown does not appear in the video, which glitches when the shooting begins.

The attorneys demanded that the video from body-worn cameras of the seven deputies at the scene be shared publicly. It is not known when the video will be made public through a judge’s order. A petition for the video’s release filed by a coalition of media outlets, including The Post, is scheduled to be heard in county court Wednesday morning.

In a video statement shared hours after the family spoke Monday, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten and Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg argued that they were complying with the law, saying they would release the video when the court ordered them to.

“Those people who claim the sheriff’s office has the ability to release [the body-camera video] don’t know North Carolina law or they are trying to purposefully inflame a tragic situation,” Fogg said.

In anticipation of unrest after the release of the video, city officials on Monday enacted a state of emergency declaration, including an 8 p.m. curfew that went into effect Tuesday.

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