District Attorney Claims Officers ‘Justified’ in Killing Andrew Brown, Jr., in Hail of Bullets – Son Calls It an ‘Execution’

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By Koda Slingluff and Leah Timmerman

PASQUOTANK COUNTY, N.C. – Following the investigation into the fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown, Jr., District Attorney Andrew Womble here has announced the officers’ actions were justified.

Womble claimed that, since the officers reasonably believed they were in danger, the shooting was justified. The prosecutor has declined to file charges against the officers who shot Brown through the back of the skull.

The shooting occurred on April 21 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, after deputies arrived to serve Brown a drug-related search and arrest warrant. This was just a day after the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of unarmed black civilian George Floyd in Minnesota.

Bodycam footage showed that uniformed law enforcement officers arrived in a marked police truck to arrest Brown and surrounded him as he sat inside his vehicle. Brown then attempted to flee, while as many as three officers fired at his vehicle.

Of seven present, the three officers confirmed to have fired their guns are Investigator Daniel Meads, Deputy Robert Morgan and Cpl. Aaron Lewellyn. Two of the officers neglected to turn on their body cameras.

According to DA Womble, an officer was threatened by Brown’s driving, which led to the shots fired.

Womble expanded on the circumstances, saying that Brown “had made two aggressive driving moves which caused his vehicle to contact Deputy Lunsford on both occasions.” Deputy Lunsford sustained no injury.

“When the officers approached Brown with their guns drawn his response was to maneuver his car and flee. Brown was undeterred by the officers yelling for him to stop, show me your hands, or by Deputy Lunsford attempting to open the driver’s door,” Womble stated.

The first shot was fired by Investigator Meads, entering the front windshield of Brown’s car. Brown then accelerated past the deputies as one shot entered the passenger window, striking Brown in the shoulder. Several more shots entered the rear passenger side door and window.

As Brown’s vehicle continued down the street through gunfire, Brown was shot five times. The car struck a tree after 14 bullets were fired.

Womble stated that, once the car crashed, “the Pasquotank County team gave chase, removed Brown from the driver’s seat, and life-saving efforts were immediately begun.”

An autopsy commissioned by the family showed the five bullet wounds—and one to the back of the head. The bullet to his head splintered into three pieces, so Womble was not able to determine which of the officers fired the fatal shot.

Brown’s son Khalil Ferebee has been outspoken on behalf of his father, calling his death an execution.

Reflecting on the autopsy report, Khalil said, “Those three gunshots to the arm, that wasn’t enough? That wasn’t enough? It’s obvious he was trying to get away. It’s obvious.”

Andrew Brown, Jr.,’s family had to fight for access to footage of the incident. After a week, they were able to see just 20 seconds of the footage. While still technically not released to the public, the footage was shown by Womble Tuesday.

But, according to DA Andrew Womble, the killing, “while tragic, was justified.

“Mr. Brown’s actions caused three deputies with the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office to reasonably believe it was necessary to use deadly force to protect themselves and others,” Womble stated.

Womble’s position hinges on the view that Brown was a “violent felon” using his car as a “deadly weapon to place their lives in danger.”

While Brown did have pending felony charges, all charges were drug related. The warrant that the police were acting under cited drug sales, but did not cite any violent crimes, according to public record.

A civil rights investigation by the FBI is still ongoing. In the meantime, several officers have returned to active duty, and protests continue on Brown’s behalf.

For many civil rights advocates, Brown has become another name on the long list of Black Americans murdered unjustly by police. For Womble and others in Elizabeth City law enforcement, this was a justified tragedy.

Summarizing law enforcement’s position, Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten, II, said, “This should not have happened this way at all. While the deputies did not break the law, we all wish things could’ve gone differently, much differently.”

Koda is a junior at UC Berkeley, majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Rhetoric. He is from Ventura, CA.

Leah Timmerman is a 4th year Political Science and American Studies major at UC Davis. She is originally from Los Angeles, California.


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The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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17 thoughts on “District Attorney Claims Officers ‘Justified’ in Killing Andrew Brown, Jr., in Hail of Bullets – Son Calls It an ‘Execution’”

  1. Matt Williams

    My immediate question when I first heard the news accounts of the Brown shooting was, “Why didn’t the officers shoot the car’s tires in order to disable the car?”

    1. David Greenwald

      I’m pretty confused by the DA’s position anyway. He argued at his press conference that the car was the deadly weapon.

      But at one point he said, “I don’t care what direction you’re going — forward, backwards, sideways. I don’t care if you’re stationary.”

      Wait – what?

      I don’t understand how an unarmed Black man in a stationary vehicle is a deadly threat. Nor am I really understanding how even an unarmed Black man in a moving vehicle is even a deadly threat.

      They have his license, they could if they needed to simply get him later. Moreover, attempting to escape while illegal is not license for the police to open fire.

      We’ll see what the feds decide to do.

      1. Ron Oertel

        Nor am I really understanding how even an unarmed Black man in a moving vehicle is even a deadly threat.

        Really?  Being black has nothing to do with that, by the way.

        They have his license, they could if they needed to simply get him later.

        Uhm, wasn’t that the reason the police were there in the first place?  At what point does an unwilling suspect have to be confronted?  Or, do you just allow suspects to resist arrest indefinitely?

        Moreover, attempting to escape while illegal is not license for the police to open fire.

        I believe it is, if a fleeing/resisting suspect is endangering others.

        I do not know the answer to Matt’s question, however.

        1. Bill Marshall

          I do not know the answer to Matt’s question, however.

          Nor do I… but in NC, I suspect, everything else being equal, as to circumstances, it would not have mattered as to ‘race’, actual or perceived… so Ron O, I have to agree, in small part with your post…

          That said, gunplay should not have occurred given the known circumstances, as I understand the reporting to date.  If the officer was in danger of being hit by the car, the shot was apparently fired “after” it was too late to avoid that danger… more of a retaliatory attack (see also, the thread on Israel/Hamas/Palestinian ‘stupids’ resulting in loss of life, other carnage).

           

        2. David Greenwald

          “I believe it is, if a fleeing/resisting suspect is endangering others.”

          You said, “if” – offer of proof that that was the case?

        3. Ron Oertel

          “Proof” would be the video itself, along with officers’ testimony.

          But I’m not interested in going through the usual trial-by-blog on here, with a frame-by-frame recounting/analysis of it.

          1. David Greenwald

            Then don’t, but this is not a hypothetical situation, he either was a danger or he wasn’t. The statements by DA were contradictory which is not allayed by you throwing an a hypothetical that you didn’t bother to research in the first place.

        4. Ron Oertel

          Then don’t, but this is not a hypothetical situation, he either was a danger or he wasn’t.

          The police and DA determined that he was a danger.  In looking at the video once, I believe that their conclusion can be supported.

          Please put my other comment back, as there was no reason to delete it.  It shows what should be an “appropriate” response by families, when another family member (in that case, a son) creates a situation that endangers others as a result of a crime.

          It should start with “contrition” – but not from the police.

          1. David Greenwald

            Sorry having watched the video several times, I believe the DA is playing politics. We’ll see what the DOJ does. My guess, they will file charges.

        5. Ron Oertel

          I believe that the DOJ is not above “playing politics”. In this case, perhaps more in “your” preferred direction, due to the current administration’s focus. But, I guess we’ll see.

          Please restore my other comment, for the reason I put forth.

    2. Bill Marshall

      Good question…

      My first one (immediate) was why it was called “justified”… instead of saying it was “not unjustified”, may be semantically the same, but completely different nuance… one says ‘it gets my seal of approval’, the other says, ‘not likely to be successfully prosecuted’… big diff…

      Was OJ “innocent”, or just “found ‘not guilty'”?

      In my view, with limited knowledge of all the facts, I opine the officers did unnecessary, unprofessional “stupids”, resulting in the unnecessary death of a person, and they should bear some serious sanctions, professionally and civilly… like loss of job, forfeiture of pension (to be diverted to pay for civil claims, costs of proceedings, etc.), no re-employment as a ‘peace officer’… etc.

      However, it was not likely ‘first degree murder’… I believe the account that the ‘fatal shot’ was a ‘tumbling projectile’ due to going thru the headrest… but the shot should never have been fired…

      The DA is an elected A-whole… as in “wholly”… pronounced the same, big diff in ‘meaning’… he should either immediately resign, or never be re-elected…

      In any event, the officers had other options… he was “known” and could have been picked up hours, days, weeks later, without the ‘death penalty’ in play…

  2. Eric Gelber

    Who you gonna believe, the DA or your own eyes? Even the short video released by the DA clearly shows that Brown was driving away from the cops, not at anyone. He was shot in the back of the head. Fleeing from being served with a warrant is not a capital offense. Those who consistently act as apologists for the police are contributing to abusive police conduct.

    Would Brown have been killed if he were not Black? Statistics suggest the odds were not in his favor.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Would Brown have been killed if he were not Black?

      Just noting the wording of that phrase.

      But yeah, I’m pretty sure he would have been killed had he been White, under those circumstances.  Of course, all of this is just opinion. But, never let that stop others from arriving at such a conclusion.

      1. Eric Gelber

        You seem to be the only one arriving at conclusions—always giving the police the benefit of the doubt, contrary to what the data suggest. But murder is murder, regardless of race.

        1. Keith Olsen

          You seem to be the only one arriving at conclusions—always giving the police the benefit of the doubt

          I had a big laugh at this statement.  Assumptions and conclusions are coming from both  sides.  Just as some always giving the police the benefit of the doubt there are also those that always give the suspect/criminal the benefit of the doubt.

        2. Bill Marshall

          Darn, Keith O… have to agree with parts of your and Ron O’s posts… and parts of Eric’s sure sign of “the end of the world”…

          What the PD did was stupid and wrong…

          To attribute the major motivation as ‘racist’, is likely the same, but in any case “unproven”, and lack of evidence other than “assumptions”, is factual, in itself, which, I would submit, have inherent biases… it may be true, it might not be.   I have no way of knowing… and I submit, no one else does either, who are posting here…

          As I opined before, the PD did stupid, unprofessional things… I have no doubt of that… the county in NC, where this occurred, (whole County) has ~ 1/2 the population of the Davis metropolitan area.  I have already opined that the officers should be sanctioned to the limits of civil laws… not one should carry a firearm again, except perhaps in their own home.

          I also opined that the DA is (I used a stronger term previously) unfit for his office, for the words he used.

          That said, holding this ‘case’ up, as ‘proof’ of individual, systemic racism, is also very contrived… no evidence, no proof… assumptions… am surprised, frankly (although I’m not) that an attorney would opine that something like this post would be,

          always giving the police the benefit of the doubt, contrary to what the data suggest.

          What data pertinent to the jurisdiction?  I guess, for some, police must be found GUILTY, until proved, beyond reasonable doubt, INNOCENT, as to intent and criminal culpability… odd position for an attorney…

          Civilly, and administratively, whether Black, Asian, White, Lantinx, visitors from outer space, were killed in this manner, under same circumstances, those officers have to go, for reals, and provide financial restitution as far as the law allows.

           

           

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