The FBI has announced it will be launching an investigation into the killing of Andrew Brown, Jr., a Black man, who sheriff’s deputies gunned down in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, last week. This investigation falls right in line with what U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is doing with other cases where unarmed BIPOC have been killed by law enforcement.
The announcement follows a statement from the attorney for Brown’s family who said the 42-year-old was shot “execution” style in the back of the head. Attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter revealed what they saw in a 20-second video clip of Brown’s arrest.
She said, “He wasn’t reaching for anything, he wasn’t touching anything, he wasn’t throwing anything around,” according to a report by CNN.
An independent autopsy concluded that Brown was shot five times. However, it was the shot to the back of the head that killed him. This autopsy was completed at the request of Brown’s family.
Elizabeth City sheriff’s deputies killed Brown while attempting to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants. Seven of the deputies involved in the killing were placed on administrative leave while the investigation is underway.
A spokesperson for the FBI said, “The FBI Charlotte Field Office has opened a federal civil rights investigation into the police-involved shooting death of Andrew Brown, Jr. Agents will work closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina and the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice to determine whether federal laws were violated.”
The FBI operates under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice that Attorney General Merrick Garland runs. Since he was sworn in, Garland has supported the FBI’s investigations of several cases, like the Brown case, where excessive force is responsible for the deaths of unarmed Black people by law enforcement. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is also investigating this case alongside the FBI.
Brown’s family has been working on getting the video footage of his arrest and murder released to the public. A judge ruled this week that the bodycam footage would not be made public but that the family will be allowed to view it in 10 days.
According to North Carolina law, police recordings and bodycam footage are not public records, and a judge must decide their release after a formal request is made.
The FBI said their investigation is ongoing and did not offer further comment.