A chorus of public officials, including the governor of North Carolina, demanded the release of bodycam footage of the death of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy Wednesday.
Seven deputies from the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office were placed on administrative leave following Brown's death, including the officer who shot at Brown.
The shooting took place in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, as sheriff's deputies attempted to execute a search warrant. Eyewitnesses told the Associated Press that Brown, a father of 10, was driving away when he was shot and killed. Local protests over his death have taken place since Wednesday night.
Brown's death is the latest in an ever-increasing number of police shootings and killings of Black people, as nationwide protests and calls to protect Black lives and end police brutality continue. On Tuesday, former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder in the killing of George Floyd, whose death sparked a global Black Lives Matter movement last summer.
Minutes before the Chauvin trial verdict, Ma'Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old Black girl in Ohio, was shot and killed by a police officer who had arrived on scene just 10 seconds earlier. On Thursday the funeral of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man shot and killed by a police officer who claimed she meant to use her Taser on him, was held in Minneapolis.
"Elizabeth City is a microcosm now of what is going on across the nation," Mayor Bettie Parker said in a press conference Saturday morning, noting that she supports local protesters who are demanding police accountability. "I see now that no city, small or large, is exempt."
The City Council of Elizabeth City formally requested the release of the bodycam footage from the sheriff's office Friday and said that if the request is denied, the council members will go to the district attorney's office and then to court.
"I hate to seem like I'm being vague, but they have not shared with us and I do not know the reason," Parker said. "It doesn't make sense we have to wait forever for the bodycam — 24, 48 hours is enough."
Town Manager Montré Freeman echoed the mayor's frustration Saturday in a statement to the media. "We probably know less than you all know about this occurrence," he said.
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten did not respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment on the release of the bodycam.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has argued that the bodycam footage can be released only by court order. The Elizabeth City Police Department said it had only been involved in the incident after Brown was shot, and distanced itself from the handling of the incident by the sheriff's office.
"I have not seen the search warrant, arrest warrant, or the body camera footage," Police Chief Eddie Buffaloe said on Saturday.
"The body camera footage should be made public as quickly as possible," North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper tweeted on Friday.
Three other sheriff's deputies have resigned since Wednesday, although Aaron Wallio from the sheriff's office said in a press conference Friday that those departures were unrelated to the shooting.
“Andrew Brown was a good person,” Martha McCullen, Brown's aunt, who raised him after his parents died, told AP. “He was about to get his kids back. He was a good father. Now his kids won’t never see him again.”