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Prosecutor: Deputies Were Justified In Fatal Shooting Of Andrew Brown Jr.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The three sheriff's deputies who fatally shot a Black man, Andrew Brown Jr., last month in Elizabeth City, N.C., will not face charges. District Attorney Andrew Womble announced yesterday his conclusion that the officers were justified in their actions.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANDREW WOMBLE: I find that the facts of this case clearly illustrate the officers who used deadly force on Andrew Brown Jr. did so reasonably and only when a violent felon used a deadly weapon to place their lives in danger.

MARTIN: We're going to hear now from attorney Wayne Kendall. He is part of the legal team representing Andrew Brown Jr.'s family. Mr. Kendall, thanks for being with us this morning. We appreciate it.

WAYNE KENDALL: Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: What has been the response from Andrew Brown Jr.'s family to this decision?

KENDALL: Well, of course, they're very disappointed in the fact that the district attorney there in Pasquotank County decided not to proceed with criminal charges against these deputy sheriffs officers as we believe they violated the law when they took Andrew Brown Jr.'S life in the manner in which they did.

MARTIN: The DA's office used the opportunity yesterday to show four short, edited videos of the shooting during this press conference. I understand you have seen the entire video unedited. What does that show? What in that full version would prove that this was an unjustified shooting?

KENDALL: Well, first of all, I need to correct you there.

MARTIN: Please.

KENDALL: None of us have seen the full videos in their entirety unredacted. We have seen, first, a 30-second snippet, then subsequent to a hearing to see all of the videos that was filed by the media and the sheriff's department itself, the judge allowed us to see almost 19 minutes, which was redacted. Parts of - the faces were redacted. And I think parts of their bodies were redacted. The weapons were redacted. So we have never seen the entirety of the what we now believe to be five body cam videos, as well as one dash cam video.

MARTIN: It would be your preference to be able to view the entire video, but what did even those excerpts show you?

KENDALL: Well, also, the judge did not allow all of the defense team to see the videos. He only allowed one representative, who was a North Carolina licensed attorney to view that 19-minute segment of the four or five body cam videos. And what our representative who saw those videos stated to us was that Andrew Brown had his hands visible on the wheel of the vehicle when the videos began, and his hands were clearly visible at all times the deputies shouted commands to him. He backed his car up and drove across a vacant lot, which is next door to his home, and they were shooting into the vehicle. According to our representative, the shots started before he ever put the vehicle in reverse to try to flee that particular scene. So there was a discrepancy between what our representative said he saw and what the district attorney indicated yesterday in his press conference that was on the videos. So we don't know until we see all of the videos in their entirety as to what those videos actually show.

MARTIN: So the district attorney is claiming that Brown was using the vehicle as a weapon, that the officers in question felt threatened. From your understanding of those excerpts, you believe that not to be true, that the - that Brown was not using the car in an aggressive manner against those officers.

KENDALL: Well, when I viewed the district attorney playback some of the videos yesterday during his press conference, I didn't know whether to believe what my eyes were seeing or what my ears were hearing because what I saw on his video, on his playback of the video, did not fit the description that he was describing to the assembled press at the press conference. He said that the victim, Mr. Brown, was using the vehicle in an offensive manner. And I did not see that. I saw him attempting to escape. And the fact that he was shot in the back of the head indicates that the shots were coming from his rear as he was attempting to leave the scene. And I did not see Mr. Brown aim that vehicle at any of those deputies that were on the scene at the time.

MARTIN: The DA announced that the officers involved will keep their jobs, though they'll be disciplined and retrained. Question for you - is the family at this point planning to pursue a civil suit?

KENDALL: Yes, all options are on the table. Certainly a civil suit is one of those options. So that would be one of the things that we would certainly look at. We're also going to be looking at getting transparency and accountability. Yesterday, we filed a petition ourselves. The two previous petitions for the recorders were not filed by the family members. We yesterday filed a petition ourselves, so we expect that to be adjudicated just shortly.

MARTIN: We'll have to leave that there. Thank you. Wayne Kendall, part of the legal team representing the Brown family, we appreciate your time.

KENDALL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.