An African-American man was shot five times by police, including in the back of the neck, as he attempted to flee arrest on drug charges, his family said Tuesday.
Relatives of Andrew Brown, who was shot and killed by police in Elizabeth City, North Carolina on April 21, said that according to an autopsy they commissioned, he died from the bullet that struck his neck as he tried to drive away from several police officers.
In the latest police killing of an African American to draw scrutiny, the family accused the Pasquotank County police of an “execution,” demanding that all body camera video be released.
The FBI opened a federal civil rights investigation into Brown’s death, while officials in Elizabeth City, whose population is nearly 20,000, declared a state of emergency and ordered a curfew in anticipation of possible violent protests over the incident.
The family spoke to media Tuesday with several lawyers, including civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has represented families in some of the most high-profile cases of police shootings.
On Monday, a 20-second clip of the incident from one officer’s body camera was shown to Brown’s immediate family.
“Yesterday I saw him executed,” said his son Khalil Ferebee.
Police use of lethal force against Black Americans has become a national controversy, heightened by last week’s murder conviction of a Minneapolis officer over the killing of George Floyd a year ago — an incident that triggered large protests.
The circumstances of Brown’s death remain unclear.
The 42-year-old was shot as he tried to drive away from officers who sought to serve an arrest warrant over drug-dealing charges.
Seven county deputies involved in the operation were placed on leave after the incident.
Family attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said Monday that the video showed Brown in his vehicle, which was blocked in a driveway by police.
“Andrew had his hands on his steering wheel. He was not reaching for anything. He wasn’t touching anything,” she said.
“They run up to his vehicle shooting… His car was riddled with bullets, shooting him when he was not threatening them in any form or fashion.”
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten has called for the public release of the videos, which requires a legal order.
But he warned that such footage can sometimes “only tell part of the story.”
Body camera footage and phone videos have played a key role in fuelling anger over police conduct in the United States.