Crowds of demonstrators took to the streets in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, on Wednesday night after a man was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy executing a search warrant at his home.
The Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office said Andrew Brown Jr., a 40-year-old Black man, was shot around 8:30 a.m. while deputies were serving a search warrant in the 400 block of Perry Street in Elizabeth City.
Authorities offered few details about the shooting at an afternoon press conference, but Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten said Brown was the subject of the search warrant, adding that it is “a tragic day here.” The officer who killed Brown has been placed on leave pending an investigation.
According to WKBN, Brown got into his car and began to drive away while authorities were at his home. Witnesses told the outlet they heard a deputy fire at least six shots while he was in the car. Family members said Brown had 10 children and did not own a gun.
“We’re looking for accurate answers, not fast answers,” Dare County District Attorney Andrew Womble said Wednesday.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is now handling the investigation into the shooting, which prompted instant outrage from the community.
By Wednesday evening, nearly 200 protesters had gathered to march through the streets, The News & Observer reported. They chanted “Say his name! Andrew Brown!” and “Hands up! Don’t shoot!”
Protesters are calling on local authorities to be transparent and provide body camera footage of the shooting, something the sheriff has vowed to do, albeit without offering a timeline.
At an emergency City Council meeting held earlier in the evening, some council members sympathized with the protesters even as they gathered outside screaming over much of the meeting.
“We don’t have the information, but it needs to be put out in the forefront. The body cameras, that needs to be released immediately,” said Councilman Darius Horton, who donned a Black Lives Matter shirt to the meeting.
Councilman Gabriel Adkins struck an emotional note, admitting that he himself is “afraid” at times in the city. “I’m afraid as a Black man walking around this city, driving my car down the road, trying to make sure that I’m driving the speed limit, trying to make sure that I wear my seat belt, trying to make sure that do everything right,” he said at the meeting, according to the News & Observer.
Several live videos of Perry Street in the aftermath of Brown’s death showed at least two dozen residents visibly upset, with several holding up signs and yelling at police.
“The sheriff needs to address these people,” Local NAACP president Keith Rivers, told WAVY. Gesturing to the angry crowd, he added, “In light of everything that’s going in America with the shooting of unarmed Black men, I came down to make sure that the facts are clearly disseminated.”
Brown’s death marks the latest in a string of police shootings involving Black residents across the United States. On Tuesday night, a Columbus, Ohio police officer shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’khia Bryant after she appeared to have lunged at someone with a knife during a fight. The shocking incident, which was captured on police body cameras, came just minutes before former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd.
Earlier this month, a white police officer in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black man, apparently firing her service weapon by accident instead of a Taser during the traffic stop.
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