(CNN) — A North Carolina city declared a state of emergency Monday morning amid concerns that video showing the police killing of Andrew Brown Jr. could cause civil unrest when it’s released to the public.
Brown, a 42-year-old Black man, was fatally shot by Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies in Elizabeth City on Wednesday when they attempted to serve him with an arrest warrant, the sheriff’s office said.
Few details have been released about the shooting, but according to dispatch audio from that day, first responders can be heard saying a man had gunshot wounds to the back. Since then, peaceful protests throughout the city have called for officials to release the police body camera video of the shooting.
According to the city’s proclamation, city officials will file a formal request with the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office for the public release of the video.
“It seems likely that the video and audio footage will be released in the very near future. In order to ensure the safety of our citizens and their property, City officials realize there may be a potential period of unrest within the City following the public release of the footage,” the proclamation says.
The shooting came just a day after former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd in the most high-profile case of the Black Lives Matter era. Still, the police killings of Brown, as well as others in Ohio and Virginia in the last week, emphasized the pervasiveness of police violence.
The delay in releasing video of Brown’s death also highlights the increasing importance of police body cameras for transparency and accountability. In Columbus, Ohio, officials released body camera footage of the police shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant within hours.
Brown family attorney Harry Daniels told CNN that the family has an appointment with the county attorney at 11:30 a.m. ET Monday. Daniels, civil rights attorney Ben Crump and Bakari Sellers will hold a news conference immediately after the meeting, according to previous CNN reporting.
According to North Carolina law, police body camera footage can only be released to the public with a court order. Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten said the county plans to file a motion in court to have the footage released.
Brown’s family met with Wooten on Friday and thought they would be shown the body camera footage, but that didn’t happen, they told CNN.
Brown’s aunt, Betty Banks, said the family was told that authorities did not find any drugs or weapons in Brown’s car or in his house. The warrant that was being served on Brown when he was shot was related to felony drug charges, Chief Deputy Daniel Fogg said.
“It’s clear to us there is something bad on that bodycam video,” Crump, who is representing Brown’s family, told CNN on Saturday. “Transparency is essential.”
Seven deputies have been placed on administrative leave following the shooting, two others have resigned and one deputy retired, Wooten told CNN. Not all the deputies who were placed on administrative leave discharged their firearms, he added, but they were all part of the warrant operation.
Elizabeth City, located in the northeast corner of North Carolina, has a population of just under 18,000 people, about half of whom are Black, according to the US Census.
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