Andrew Brown Jr. shot five times, once in back of head, according to family-backed autopsy
The Black man who died during an attempted arrest in North Carolina last week was shot five times, including once in the back of the head, his family said Tuesday.
Relatives of Andrew Brown Jr., 42, are questioning why Pasquotank County Sheriff’s deputies used deadly force while serving a warrant for his arrest on felony drug charges on Wednesday.
The family commissioned forensic pathologist Dr. Brent Hall, who found that Brown was shot four times in the right arm and once squarely in the back of his head.
That head shot was fired from “intermediate” range and penetrated Brown’s skull and brain, according to Hall, who is based in Boone, North Carolina.
The bullet wound to the back of Brown’s head had a trajectory of “bottom to top, left to right and back to front,” Hall’s report said.
“This, in fact, was a fatal wound to the back of Mr. Brown’s head as he was leaving the site trying to evade being shot at by these particular law enforcement officers that we believe did nothing but a straight up execution,” family lawyer Wayne Kendall told reporters during a press conference.
Hall’s report confirmed findings of a state death certificate that showed Brown was shot five times, once in the head and four other times — in the right shoulder, twice in the upper right arm and once more around his right elbow.
It called Brown’s immediate cause of death: “Penetrating gunshot wound of the head.”
Brown’s son Khalil Ferebee said the findings show his father posed no threat to deputies on the scene, making deadly force unnecessary.
“Those (four) gunshots to the arm, that weren’t enough? That weren’t enough?” he said. “It’s obvious he was trying to get away. It’s obvious and they’re going to shoot him in the back of the head? That s— not right. That’s not right at all, man.”
The North Carolina Office of the Medical Examiner, which handles autopsies for suspicious deaths in Pasquotank County, did not immediately return messages seeking comment on Tuesday.
Brown’s family and attorneys said Monday they were allowed to see just 20 seconds of body camera footage of the deadly encounter. They said the video showed he was not a threat to arresting deputies. NBC News has not seen the footage.
Police recordings, such as body camera video, are not automatically classified as public records in North Carolina, as is the case in some other states. A judge has to sign off on formal requests to have police video released.
Elizabeth City City Manager Montré Freeman said Tuesday he understands the family’s frustration seeing so little footage thus far.
“I am completely flabbergasted at that move,” Freeman told MSNBC. “You know, when you have bodycam, the most transparent thing to do is to show all of it, and unfortunately, that did not happen yesterday, and I wish I had an answer for you.”
Even if police video is not a public document, family lawyer Bakari Sellers said the sheriff has discretion to show Brown’s loved ones more footage in private than is released to the public.
“The law does not require a judge’s order to show the family the entire video,” Sellers said Tuesday. “That was a discretionary decision made by the county to show them 20 seconds under the auspices of it being pertinent to them.”
Brown’s family was particularly angered on Monday because they were shown so little footage on the same day a search warrant affidavit was released accusing Brown of selling cocaine, crack, meth and heroin.
“My dad got executed just trying to save his own life,” Ferebee said Monday shortly after viewing the video of his father’s death. “It ain’t right. It ain’t right at all.”
He repeated that point on Tuesday.
The shooting occurred in a residential neighborhood in Elizabeth City, which is about 35 miles south of Norfolk, Virginia.
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten pleaded for patience on Monday, saying independent investigators need to examine all evidence. He defended the relatively small amount of video that was shown to the family.
“This tragic incident was quick and over in less than 30 seconds and body cameras are shaky and sometimes hard to decipher,” Sheriff Wooten said.
“They only tell part of the story. Outside investigators both from SBI (North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation) and four other sheriff’s offices are interviewing witnesses and gathering more information.”
Emma Thorne contributed.