By BEN FINLEY and JONATHAN DREW for the Associated Press
ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (AP) — Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man killed by deputies in North Carolina, was shot five times, including in the back of the head, according to an independent autopsy report released Tuesday by his family’s attorneys.
The details about Brown’s wounds emerged amid increasing calls for the public release of body camera footage of last week’s shooting. A court hearing on access to the video was scheduled for Wednesday.
The autopsy was performed Sunday by a pathologist hired by Brown’s family. The exam noted four wounds to the right arm and one to the head. The state’s autopsy has not been released yet.
The family’s lawyers also released a copy of the death certificate, which lists the cause of death as a “penetrating gunshot wound of the head.” It describes the death as a homicide.
Brown was shot Wednesday by deputies serving drug-related search and arrest warrants in the North Carolina town of Elizabeth City, about 160 miles northeast of Raleigh.
The autopsy results come a day after Brown’s relatives were shown some body camera footage. Another family lawyer, Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, who viewed a 20-second portion of the video, said Monday that officers opened fire on Brown while he had his hands on the steering wheel of a car. She said she lost count of the numerous gunshots while viewing the footage.
Brown’s son Khalil Ferebee questioned why deputies had to shoot so many times at a man who, he said, posed no threat.
“Yesterday I said he was executed. This autopsy report shows me that was correct,” he said Tuesday at a news conference. “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?”
The pathologist, North Carolina-based Dr. Brent Hall, noted a wound to the back of Brown’s head from an undetermined distance that penetrated his skull and brain. He said there was no exit wound.
“It was a kill shot to the back of the head,” family attorney Ben Crump said.
Two shots to Brown’s right arm penetrated the skin. Two others shots to the arm grazed him. The pathologist could not determine the distance from which they were fired.
The shooting prompted days of protests and calls for justice and transparency.
Wednesday’s court hearing on the video will consider petitions to release the footage, including filings by a media coalition and by a county attorney on behalf of the sheriff. A North Carolina law that took effect in 2016 allows law enforcement agencies to show body camera video privately to a victim’s family but generally requires a court to approve any public release.
It’s not clear how soon a judge could rule, or how quickly the video would be released if the release is approved. In similar cases, it has sometimes taken weeks for the full legal process to play out.
The slow movement has prompted an outcry from protesters, the family’s lawyers and racial justice advocates, who noted that law enforcement agencies in other states have moved faster. In Columbus, Ohio, the day before Brown was shot, body camera footage was released within hours of an officer fatally shooting a 16-year-old Black girl who was swinging a knife at another girl.