ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (NewsNation Now) — Mourners gathered Monday for the funeral of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man shot and killed by deputies in North Carolina, with the Rev. Al Sharpton issuing a powerful call for transparency and the release of body camera footage.
At an invitation-only service in a church in Elizabeth City, Sharpton delivered a fiery eulogy that likened delays in the release of law enforcement footage to a con job done on the public. A judge ruled last week that the video would not be released for another month pending a state investigation of the shooting.
“You don’t need time to get a tape out,” Sharpton said. “Put it out! Let the world see what there is to see. If you’ve got nothing to hide, then what are you hiding?”
Other speakers included Brown’s relatives as well as civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who’s representing Brown’s family, and the Rev. William Barber II, leader of the Poor People’s Campaign.
Calling Brown’s death an “unjustifiable, reckless shooting,” Crump told mourners the legal team would continue fighting for justice and transparency, including the release of deputy body camera footage of the shooting.
Brown, 42, was shot and killed on April 21 by deputies attempting to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants. An independent autopsy commissioned by his family said that he was shot five times, including once in the back of the head.
The shooting has prompted protests and demands for accountability in the eastern North Carolina city of about 18,000.
On Sunday, hundreds of mourners paid their respects at public viewings in Hertford and then in Elizabeth City.
Family members have said that Brown was a proud father of seven, who was known for entertaining relatives with his stories and jokes.
Brown’s family asked Sharpton to deliver the eulogy because they felt the civil rights leader would properly honor his legacy. Sharpton recently delivered the eulogy for Daunte Wright, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Minnesota.
Sharpton told The Associated Press that he wanted to both celebrate Brown’s life and help call attention to larger problems with policing that need to be addressed.
“I would want to get across that this is a human being. And for us, it’s part of a continual abuse of police power,” he said.
A judge Wednesday denied requests to release body camera footage of the shooting publicly. However, he said, videos from multiple body cameras and one dashboard camera must be disclosed to Brown’s family and an attorney within 10 days. He said some portions of the video might be blurred or redacted, including conversations between officers. The family previously saw only a 20-second portion of one body camera video.
On Thursday, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten announced in a news release that he has restored to duty four out of the seven deputies who were placed on administrative leave after the shooting death of Brown. He said the three deputies who fired their weapons will remain on leave until an investigation is completed.
Sheriff Wooten also released the names of the deputies involved in the fatal shooting.
The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate WAVY contributed to this report.