Judge won't release videos of deputies shooting Black man

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Protesters march along the streets to protest the shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City, N.C., Wednesday, April 28, 2021. A judge has denied requests to release body camera video in the case of Brown, a Black man who was killed by North Carolina deputies. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. – A judge refused Wednesday to release body camera video showing North Carolina deputies shooting and killing a Black man, ruling that making the video public at this stage could jeopardize the investigation into Andrew Brown Jr.'s death.

However, the judge did order authorities to allow Brown's family to privately view five videos from body cameras and one from a dashboard camera within 10 days, with some portions blurred or redacted. Family members had previously been allowed to view only a 20-second clip from a single body camera.

Judge Jeffery Foster said he believed the videos contained information that could harm the ongoing investigation or threaten the safety of people seen in the footage. He said the video must remain out of public view for at least 30 days, but he would consider releasing it after that point if investigations are complete.

“The release at this time would create a serious threat to the fair, impartial and orderly administration of justice,” Foster said.

While one attorney for Brown’s family, Wayne Kendall, initially said it was a “partial victory” for the family to view more video, the legal team later issued a statement condemning the decision not to make the video public.

“In this modern civil rights crisis where we see Black people killed by the police everywhere we look, video evidence is the key to discerning the truth and getting well-deserved justice for victims of senseless murders,” said the statement signed by the legal team, including Ben Crump and Harry Daniels.

The decision came shortly after a North Carolina prosecutor said that Brown had hit law enforcement officers with his car before they opened fire last week.

District Attorney Andrew Womble, who viewed the body camera videos, told the judge that he disagreed with a characterization by an attorney for Brown's family that Brown did not try to drive away until deputies opened fire. Womble said the video shows that Brown’s car made “contact” with law enforcement twice before shots could be heard on the video.