A North Carolina judge ruled on Wednesday (April 28) that police body camera footage of the shooting death of Andrew Brown, Jr. cannot be released until after a state investigation is completed. Judge Jeffrey Foster also ordered that the video be shown to Brown’s family and one attorney licensed within the state of North Carolina within 10 days.
Public release of the body camera footage won’t be considered until no less than 30 to 45 days after the close of the state’s investigation and state officials must tell the court when their investigation is completed.
During the hearing, District Attorney Andrew Womble argued against releasing the video citing potential interference with the investigation. State authorities also said that public release of the footage could lead to an impartial trial if criminal charges are brought against officers involved in the shooting.
One of the family's attorneys called Foster's ruling a "partial victory." The footage released to the family will only blur out officers' faces and other identifying information, Foster ruled.
The ruling comes after a week of Brown’s death and calls from the community, Brown’s family and legal team to release the complete footage for transparency into what happened to their loved one. Brown’s son, Khalil Ferebee and one of his attorneys, Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, were permitted to view an edited clip of body camera footage earlier this week in which they said Andrew had his hands on the steering wheel while officers shot at him.
Womble challenged Cherry-Lassiter’s account of what happened in the footage in court, refuting her claims that Andrew didn’t hit officers before they fired their weapons. An attorney for a media coalition that is among several petitioning for the footage to be released told NPR the difference between Womble’s account and what the Brown family said happened gives more reason to release it. “The best vaccine to rumor is fact,” Mike Tadych told the outlet.
The family hired an independent pathologist to conduct an autopsy in which it was determined that Andrew died from a gunshot to the back of his head.
The FBI announced on Tuesday (April 27) that it would be launching a civil rights investigation into the shooting death of Andrew Brown, Jr. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has also reportedly asked for a special prosecutor to handle the case.
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