ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (NewsNation Now) — Protests continued in North Carolina after a deputy shot and killed a Black man while executing a search warrant earlier this week as residents demanded the release of body camera footage of the shooting.
Andrew Brown Jr., a 42-year-old Black man from Elizabeth City, North Carolina, was shot to death Wednesday by one or more deputy sheriffs trying to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants. An eyewitness said Brown tried to drive away but was shot dead in his car.
The shooting has prompted protests and demands for accountability in the eastern North Carolina city of about 18,000. The sheriff said deputies involved have been put on leave pending a state investigation.
Authorities have said little about how the shooting transpired, but on Thursday, Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten II issued a video statement saying that deputies including a tactical unit were serving arrest warrants in addition to a search warrant he’d previously disclosed.
On the day before the shooting, nearby Dare County had issued two arrest warrants for Brown on drug-related charges including possession with intent to sell cocaine, according to court documents released Thursday. Wooten has said a Dare County law enforcement officer was also present.
While Wooten had previously said one Pasquotank County deputy had shot Brown and was on leave, he indicated on Thursday that multiple deputies were involved and had been placed on leave.
“Our deputies attempted to serve the arrest warrants, they fired the shots. They’ve been put on administrative leave until we know all the facts,” he said. He didn’t immediately respond to an email asking how many of his deputies are on leave.
Protesters are demanding the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office release body camera video of the deputy-involved shooting.
Wooten said Wednesday that the deputy was wearing a body camera. In North Carolina, a judge generally has to approve the release of police video, and no timetable has been given.
Residents protested both Wednesday and Thursday with more protests scheduled for Friday evening.
Despite his hard life — Brown was partially paralyzed on his right side by accidental shooting, and he lost an eye when he was stabbed, according to aunt Glenda Brown Thomas — “Drew,” as he was called, looked for the humor in things.
“He had a good laugh, a nice smile. And he had good dimples,” Thomas said in an interview with the Associated Press Thursday, a day after her nephew was killed. “You know, when he’s talking and smiling, his dimples would always show. And he was kind of like a comedian. He always had a nice joke.”
Brown had seven children of his own and helped take care of others, Harry Daniels, an attorney representing the family, said Thursday.
Hampton said Brown was a proud father.
“Although he didn’t finish school, he pushed them to finish school,” she said. “I believe a few of them were on honor roll.”
Court records show Brown had a history of criminal charges stretching back into the 1990s, including a misdemeanor drug possession conviction and some pending felony drug charges.
When he was 12 or 13, his mother was slain in Florida, Thomas said. Not long afterward, he dropped out of school around the 10th grade. She said her nephew was a good basketball player but had trouble with reading comprehension. Several years ago, his father died in federal prison after a medical procedure, Thomas said.
With his own troubles with drugs and the law, Brown had trouble keeping a job, Thomas said. But she said he still found ways to earn money to support his children, including card games and shooting pool. She said he sent his father money every month when the older man was in prison.
Another aunt who helped raise Brown in the absence of his parents, Martha McCullen, said it’s hard to find a job, especially with a criminal record, in Elizabeth City, where 1 in 5 live in poverty.
“Because they’re convicted … they can’t get no jobs,” she said. “It’s crazy.”
Despite Brown’s past trouble with the law, several relatives and friends said they never knew him to be a violent person.
“No matter what his past reflects, it still doesn’t give him (the deputy) the right to shoot him, period,” said Daniel Bowser, who said he had been friends with Brown for 30 years.
All reporting by AP’s Allen G. Breed and Michael Kunzelman. NewsNation affiliate WAVY and the Associated Press contributed to this report.