On May 18, District Attorney Andrew Womble announced that the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. last month was justified due to his reckless driving towards the officers on scene while trying to flee arrest.
Not only has the shooting been ruled as justified, but the three deputies who fired at Brown Jr. will be retrained and reinstated. District Attorney Andrew Womble said, “Mr. Brown’s death, while tragic, was justified because Mr. Brown’s actions caused three deputies to reasonably believe it was necessary to use deadly force to protect themselves and others.” In regard to the three deputies being reinstated, Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten said, “while the district attorney concluded that no criminal law was violated, this was a terrible and tragic outcome, and we could do better.”
The fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. occurred on April 21 in which law enforcement officers were trying to execute a drug related search and arrest warrant on Andrew Brown Jr. While they attempted to execute the warrant, his car made contact with law enforcement twice, which then led to shots being fired (WSOC-TV). As a result, protests occurred in Elizabeth City and the FBI Charlotte Field Office opened a civil rights investigation (CNN). However, Womble utilized the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation’s investigative report and the four body-camera videos from the shooting to make his decision. In Womble’s decision, he asserted that “when you employ a car in a manner that puts officers’ lives in danger, that is a threat. And I don’t care what direction you’re going — forward, backwards, sideways. I don’t care if you’re stationary, and neither do our courts and our case law” (CNN). On the other side of this argument is Brown’s family and attorneys who assert that Brown Jr. was driving away from the officers, thus he was not a threat.
Both sides of this situation have responded to the district attorney’s ruling. According to CNN, an attorney for Brown Jr.’s family said she’s “not sure what the discipline is going to entail, for they did not follow their own policies. They were not being safe during the entire interaction,” and accused Womble of trying to “whitewash this unjustified killing.” Furthermore, Brown Jr.’s family is “outraged and very disappointed by this decision.” Sheriff Wooten admitted that “we can do better” and announced that all deputies will receive more tactical training; he is also requesting use of force experts to review his department’s policies and make recommendations (ABC News). Moving forward, Brown Jr.’s family has requested the U.S.
Department of Justice to intervene immediately (CBS News) and there is sure to be more protests to follow this announcement.
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ARTICLE: KATE SCHLESSELMAN
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE WASHINGTON POST
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