Judge rules against release of police body camera video in Brown killing

A North Carolina judge on Wednesday ruled against the release of police body camera footage in the of the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. by deputies.

Superior Court Judge Jeff Foster said that there was “compelling public interest” in the video, but that the media is not entitled to the footage under state law, and that its release “would create a serious threat to the fair impartial and orderly administration of justice.”

Foster also ruled that the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation would have 30-45 days to complete its probe, at which point he would consider a public release of the footage.


The judge did rule that Brown’s son Khalil Ferebee, other members of Brown's immediate family and one attorney for the family would be able to see the entirety of the footage within 10 days. 

But Foster gave the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office discretion to blur out faces and any other identifying information of the officers involved as needed.

The ruling was a win for District Attorney Andre Womble, who argued the public release of the video should be delayed.

It was also a positive outcome for attorney H.B. Williams who during his remarks to Foster didn’t disclose the identity of his clients — presumably the deputies involved in the shooting — but noted that the officers involved are “very distraught over what happened,” though they believe the deadly shooting to be “justified.”

Following Foster’s announcement, family attorney Wayne Kendall called the decision a “partial victory,” since Ferebee and other family members would be able to see the complete footage in the coming days.

Family members of Brown were shown a short, redacted clip of the footage earlier in the week, though state statute says that a victim’s family is privy to all of the raw footage.


Deputies from the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office shot and killed Brown, 42, last Wednesday, just a day after a Minneapolis jury found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

Brown's family and attorneys have described his killing as an execution, saying his hands were on the steering wheel of his car when police began shooting. They also say Brown was trying to escape police after the shooting began when he was killed. An autopsy report found he had been shot five times and that he had died from a gunshot to the back of the head.

Under North Carolina law, police body camera footage cannot be publicly released without approval by a judge.

The only footage that has been released is from a city-owned camera that’s situated on a utility pole on the street where Brown was killed. The video snippet released on Tuesday shows deputies in tactical gear riding in the back of a truck moments before they made contact with Brown.  

Deputies reportedly approached Brown with a search warrant and a pair of arrest warrants citing felony drug charges.

On Tuesday, Kendall and the rest of the Brown family legal team said that their independently commissioned autopsy revealed Brown was shot 4 times in the right arm before being shot in the back of the head, which killed him.

An official autopsy report has yet to be released.

Eyewitnesses say Brown attempted to leave the scene in his car as the deputies approached, at which point deputies shot him several times.

The fatal shot to the back of the head suggests that Brown was attempting to drive away from the officers, but Womble refuted this at Wednesday’s hearing, saying that deputies only began shooting as he tried to back up and then drive forward.

In addition to the open state investigation, the FBI’s field office in Charlotte said on Tuesday that it would be starting a federal civil rights probe into Brown’s death.

Updated at 2:05 p.m.