ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) — Protesters made demands for transparency Wednesday night after a man was fatally shot by a Pasquotank County deputy in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
The following day, the Pasquotank County NAACP held a brief press conference calling on the Pasquotank sheriff to release the body camera footage of the deputy-involved shooting. The full press conference can be watched in the player above.
Few details have been released, but the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office said the shooting happened around 8:30 a.m. while deputies served a search warrant in the 400 block of Perry Street, off Roanoke Avenue.
The man, identified as Andrew Brown Jr., got into his car and started to drive away from law enforcement, according to those who say they witnessed the shooting. That’s when shots were fired by the deputy. Neighbors said they heard six to eight shots.
His family says Brown did not carry a gun and wouldn’t hurt anyone. He was the father of 10 children. Public records indicate Brown was 42.
Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten II and other Pasquotank County officials held a press conference at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday to address the shooting. Officials declined to confirm anything witnesses and family members said.
District Attorney Andrew Womble said that they want “accurate answers, not fast answers.” He made the request for the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to take over the case.
Wooten said the entire shooting was captured on the deputy’s body-warn camera. The Pasquotank Board of Commissioners approved the purchase of the county’s first 33 body-worn cameras for deputies last September.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Wooten said he had not viewed the footage himself. He said he planned to release it, although he did not give a timeline.
“The sheriff’s office trusts the ability of our North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations and we will be transparent and we will take the proper actions based on the findings of that investigation,” Wooten said.
The deputy will remain on administrative leave until the investigation is complete. The sheriff’s office didn’t identify who the deputy was or how long they had been with the department.
An emergency Elizabeth City Council meeting was held Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the wake of the shooting.
The meeting was not open for in-person public attendance — only virtual — due to COVID-19 restrictions.
A crowd of protesters grew as the meeting got underway, many people with phones listening to the livestream of the meeting.
During the meeting, some City Council members called for the release of information about the search warrant and body camera video as soon as possible.
“People are scared,” Councilman Gabriel Adkins said during the meeting. He added that people were boarding up storefronts and are afraid shootings will increase.
Councilman Michael Brooks, said it was important to let people “vent right now” while the SBI completes its investigation.
As nighttime fell, the protest continued with nearly 200 people in the city’s streets. Various community members led a march around downtown, and Elizabeth City police blocked off the streets ahead of the marchers.
While the protest remained peaceful, Wooten said he called in extra law enforcement officers to “ensure the protection of the citizens in our community.”
Protesters had left the area by 10 p.m. Wednesday, but said they would be back in front of the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office at 5 p.m. Thursday if the body camera video from the shooting hasn’t been released.
“If the body cameras were on, that information needs to be disseminated as quickly as possible in order to make sure justice is served,” said Keith Rivers, the president of the Pasquotank NAACP, told 10 On Your Side.
Elizabeth City Pasquotank Public Schools announced they would operate under a “remote” learning model on Thursday due to “community concern and out of an abundance of caution.”
Tensions at the shooting scene
Earlier Wednesday, as authorities investigated at the scene of the shooting, a crowd gathered around the crime tape to mourn Brown, protest the shooting and document the scene.
Some community members were irate and shouted at deputies standing around the scene. Some said Wednesday’s shooting was just another example of law enforcement ending the life of a Black man. They say they’re tired of hearing it.
“Why? I mean, we want to know why would they not take the proper procedures in dealing with this instead of opening fire to an unarmed man,” said Ebony Hockaday, a family friend.
“God knows what happened. God knows who did it,” said Brown’s aunt, Martha McCullen.
Rivers emphasized how the situation was intense during the daytime at the scene, and said law enforcement after the shooting acted like they were in “riot mode.”
“The sheriff has not spoken to anyone out here … this is not the Elizabeth City Police Department, this is the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Department,” Rivers said. “The sheriff needs to address these people. The sheriff needs to talk to community leaders to let us know what is going on so that we can be a part of this process.”
Darius Horton, an Elizabeth City Council member said getting the community the body-camera video was vital.
“It’s one thing when you sit home and you hear about what’s going on abroad, but to have a situation with an officer-involved shooting where there’s limited details, we need answers,” Horton said.
BELOW: At 3:30 p.m., Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten II held a press conference to provide updates on the incident. Watch the briefing below.
Correction: An original version of this article misstated Brown’s age based on statements made by relatives on Wednesday. Court records indicate Brown is 42.