The FBI announced a federal civil rights investigation into last week’s shooting of Andrew Brown Jr., a black man killed by police in North Carolina.
Also on Tuesday, an independent autopsy report released by Brown’s family lawyers showed he was shot five times, including in the back of the head. Brown was shot on April 21 by lawmakers serving drug-related searches and arrest warrants at his home in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, about 260 kilometers northeast of the city. state capital Raleigh.
The developments come amid growing demands for the release of body camera footage, including formal petitions to make the video public for review by a judge on Wednesday.
The autopsy was performed on Sunday by a pathologist hired by Brown’s family. The examination revealed four injuries to his right arm and one to his head. The state autopsy has not yet been released.
The family’s lawyers also issued a copy of the death certificate, which lists the cause of death as a “penetrating gunshot wound to the head”. The certificate, signed by a paramedic services instructor who acts as the local medical examiner, describes the death as murder.
The Charlotte FBI office has opened a civil rights investigation into Brown’s death. The agents have planned to work closely with the Justice Department “to determine if federal laws are being violated,” the agency said.
The autopsy results come the day after Brown’s relative was shown a 20-second video camera of a deputy’s body. Another family attorney, Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, who saw the video, said on Monday that officers opened fire on Brown while his hands were on the wheel of a car. He said the video showed Brown trying to escape but posed no threat to the agents.
Brown’s son, Khalil Ferebee, asked why the deputies opened fire.
“I said yesterday he was executed. This autopsy report shows me he was correct,” he said at a news conference Tuesday. “Obviously he was trying to escape. Obviously.
“And will they shoot him in the back of the head?”
Filming provokes protests, calls for transparency
Pathologist Dr. Brent Hall, based in North Carolina, noticed a wound to the back of Brown’s head from an indeterminate distance that penetrated his skull and brain. He said there was no exit wound.
“It was a fatal blow to the back of the head,” said family lawyer Ben Crump.
Two blows to Brown’s right arm penetrated the skin. Two more blows to the arm grazed him. The pathologist was unable to determine the distance from which they were fired.
The shooting sparked days of protests and calls for justice and transparency. Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II said multiple officers fired at them, but released few details about what happened. Seven Pasquotank County deputies were put on leave as the State Bureau of Investigation investigates the shooting.
It is unclear how soon a judge might decide or how quickly the video would be posted if the release was approved. In such cases, it sometimes took weeks for the entire legal process to take place.
The slow movement sparked protests from protesters, family lawyers and racial justice advocates, who noted that law enforcement in other states moved faster. In Columbus, Ohio, the day before Brown’s filming, camera footage of the body was released hours after an officer fatally shot a 16-year-old black girl who was waving a knife at another girl.