Today, a North Carolina district attorney, in a press conference, declined to bring charges against the police officers who killed Andrew Brown Jr., in a fusillade of bullets, fired by multiple officers, saying police were “justified” even though Brown was driving away from police on April 21, 2021.
Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble also blamed Brown for his death at the hands of these police.
“Mr. Brown’s death, while tragic, was justified,” Womble said. “His actions caused the three deputies to reasonably believe it was necessary to use deadly force to protect themselves and others.”
Womble claimed Brown “drove recklessly and endangered the officers” and “used his vehicle as a deadly weapon.”
During the press conference, Womble used selective portions of police videos to justify his actions, and those of the trigger-happy cops. However, the full footage of those videos are still being withheld from the public.
The head-scratching, but unsurprising, finding is being denounced by Brown’s grieving family and by national legal and civil rights organizations.
The Brown family lawyers released a statement decrying Womble’s exoneration of the officers.
“To say this shooting was justified, despite the known facts, is both an insult and a slap in the face to Andrew’s family, the Elizabeth City community, and to rational people everywhere…We certainly got neither transparency nor justice today,” they said in the statement. The lawyers also called for the immediate of all of the police videos “help shed some much needed daylight on this case and bring a small measure of justice to this family and this community.”
The decision by District Attorney Andrew Womble also led to the following statement by Kristie Puckett-Williams, statewide manager of the ACLU of North Carolina’s Campaign for Smart Justice:
“It should not come as a surprise that the criminal legal system has upheld the legitimacy of another police murder of a Black person. Communities deserve justice and accountability, but history shows justice for people of color is rare in a system that was built upon slavery and has been modified over time to control and limit the lives of those who are not white.
“The decision not to bring charges against those who killed Andrew Brown Jr. is a sign that the system is working as it was designed to. These cases of state-sanctioned murder are not anomalies. They are business as usual. Until we have radically changed the many ways the criminal legal system harms and kills Black and Brown people, justice will continue to elude its victims.”
Reverend Al Sharpton and the National Action Network (NAN) also released a statement following today’s briefing by DA Andrew Womble:
“The Elizabeth City District Attorney, who is concurrently running for Superior Court Judge, Mr. Andrew Womble gave a bizarre and unconvincing defense of his decision to not charge the Sergeant and deputies for shooting Andrew Brown Jr. in the back of head.
“DA Womble is claiming that Anthony Brown’s death was a justified measure of public safety. How can the loss of life in a manner such as shooting a man in the back of the head be justified?
“That is why we are calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to intervene with the resources and authority of the federal government and/or a special prosecutor. It is obvious that there are political motivations behind the DA’s nonsensical and unjustifiable decision and we intend to continue fighting for justice in this case.”