A North Carolina judge on Wednesday rejected requests from media organizations and the local sheriff for the immediate release of videos showing law enforcement’s shooting death of Andrew Brown, Jr., siding with arguments their disclosure could jeopardize ongoing investigations.
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten and roughly 20 media organizations had filed petitions to release officers’ body camera video of the attempted arrest and fatal shooting by sheriff’s deputies last Wednesday, arguing disclosure was in the public interest.
Superior Court Judge Jeff Foster said he was delaying the release of the videos sought by Wooten for 30 to 45 days “to allow completion of any investigation being undertaken” by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and local district attorney.
Foster ordered the state to notify the court when its investigation is completed and said he would reconsider Wooten’s request to release the videos “based on the factors as they exist at that time.”
Foster did rule, however, that four body camera videos of the incident could be disclosed within 10 days to Brown’s son, Khalil Ferebee, but that the faces and other identifying features of the officers at the scene must be obscured.
District Attorney Andrew Womble had argued against immediate release during a hearing prior to Foster’s ruling, saying it could negatively impact the SBI’s investigation and prejudice the jury should there be a trial.
Sheriff Wooten has said his deputies were attempting to serve search and arrest warrants on the 42-year-old Brown related to felony drug charges when the shooting occurred, and that Brown had a history of resisting arrest.
The shooting has led to a week of protests in Elizabeth City, a riverfront community near the Virginia border whose population is half African-American. Protesters have been clamoring for all the body camera videos to be release.