ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — The Pasquotank County sheriff has advised several deputies who were involved in a fatal deputy-involved shooting in Elizabeth City to temporarily relocate.
Sheriff Tommy Wooten II confirmed in an email Friday that he had advised the deputies to do so as a safety precaution.
He said the decision was made due to threats, and as far as he knows, the deputies took his advice.
Seven Pasquotank deputies were involved in the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr., 42, as law enforcement attempted to serve a drug-related search warrant on April 21 at a home on Perry Street.
Four of those deputies have returned to work after being temporarily placed on administrative leave. Three who fired their weapons during the shooting are still on leave.
Wooten identified all seven deputies involved on April 29.
Protesters have peacefully demonstrated in Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County in the days following Brown’s death.
They have asked for transparency about what led up to Brown’s death, and also are pressing for body camera footage from the shooting to be released to the public.
Brown’s family has called the shooting an “execution,” and an independent autopsy showed Brown was shot in the back of the head. Brown was in his car when he was killed. Wooten has said the sheriff’s office policy expressly prohibits shooting at vehicles as the drive away unless a deputy’s life is in danger, but also added that “we don’t know now” what happened until the investigation is complete.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is conducting the probe into the shooting.
While protesters are demanding immediate release of video, under current North Carolina law, a judge’s order is required to release body camera footage to the public — something the Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners on Thursday said it would like to see changed by the General Assembly.
While a court order could release the footage to the public, a judge ruled last week in Pasquotank Superior Court not to do so for at least 30 days. He did say in the original ruling that Brown’s family could view the footage within 10 days, but on Thursday — nine days after the ruling — he filed an official order that gave 10 days to show the family the video.
The sheriff’s department has six video files of what happened to Brown when he was shot dead. Five of them come from four deputies’ body cameras, and another file comes from a police cruiser’s dash cam.
Wooten said he has seen all the video from the fatal shooting, and wants the public to see the unredacted footage as well.
Wooten has also said he supports amending North Carolina laws on releasing body camera footage to make the process more transparent.