District Attorney Andrew Womble announced Tuesday morning that he would not press charges against the police officers who shot and killed Andrew Brown Jr. last month outside of his home in Elizabeth City, N.C., saying they were "justified."

“After reviewing the investigation conducted by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Mr. Brown's death while tragic, was justified because Mr. Brown's actions caused three deputies with the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office to reasonably believe it was necessary to use deadly force to protect themselves and others,” Womble said at a press conference.

Womble then proceeded to show body camera footage of what transpired on the morning of April 21, the first time the public has seen the recordings.


The video shows deputies surrounding Brown’s vehicle, guns drawn, and then shouting for him to get out of the car.

Brown is shown to reverse the car, making contact with a deputy who was stationed on one side of it. The car then moves forward, making contact again, prompting a first shot to be fired.

Officers continued shooting as the car then turns left and begins to drive across a vacant lot next to Brown’s residence away from the officers on the ground, but toward a pair of deputies who were stationed in unmarked vehicles on the street.

The deputies continue to shoot, with one of the bullets striking Brown in the back of the head, killing him.

While it appears that Brown is trying to evade the deputies, Womble said he believed that Brown was using his car as a deadly weapon, giving law enforcement the purview to open fire.

“I believe he employed it as a deadly weapon the moment he did not respond to officers commands to show them his hands and get out of the car,” Womble said. “At that point he has demonstrated his willingness to use that vehicle in any manner he deems necessary to evade lawful arrest.”

The deputies had approached Brown with a search warrant and a pair of arrest warrants on felony drug charges.

According to the state-sanctioned autopsy, Womble said, Brown sustained a bullet wound in his right shoulder that was nonlethal in addition to the fatal shot to the head.

Brown also suffered multiple abrasions from shrapnel.

Throughout the process, the Brown family and their attorneys have been at odds with Womble and the states on multiple fronts.

After viewing an initial 20-second clip of the fatal arrest, family members and attorneys described Brown’s death as an “execution.”

A ruling from Superior Court Judge Jeff Foster on April 28 allowed immediate family members and their counsel to see a fuller version of what happened, though the judge barred media outlets from gaining access.


Last week, they were shown six different videos — five from body cameras and one from a dash camera — that totaled roughly 20 minutes.

“What we saw on that video was an unjustified killing, what we saw on that video is something that we believe also denotes further investigation and does have some criminal liability,” family attorney Bakari Sellers said outside the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office at the time.

While Womble showed around 45 seconds of video at the press conference, he explained that Foster or another judge would need to rule that the videos could be released to the media. 

Brown’s camp has stood by the fact that none of Brown’s conduct warranted deadly force, a stance which prompted criticism from Womble during his press conference.

The prosecutor said that people “made claims on camera that were knowing falsehoods,” though he didn’t directly name any of Brown’s relatives or their lawyers.

“The deputies in this case perceived a threat, and immediately fired their weapon to neutralize the threat,” Womble said. “The perceived danger to the officer must only be apparent, not actual, in order to justify the use of deadly force.” 


Attorneys for the Brown family previously cited an independently commissioned autopsy, saying that Brown had suffered 5 gunshot wounds — more than what Womble noted — though it’s unclear if that autopsy counted Brown’s abrasions from shrapnel.

Womble said that he had to speak to Brown’s family about his decision.

The police killing of Brown came just a day after a jury in Minneapolis convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd, and has increased already loud calls for national police reform.

Updated at 1:15 p.m.