Leaders and protesters in a grieving North Carolina community want to know what happened Wednesday morning when a deputy executing a search warrant shot and killed a Black man.
District Attorney Andrew Womble has promised "accurate answers and not fast answers" as state investigators probe why a Pasquotank County Sheriff's deputy fatally shot Andrew Brown Jr. at about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in Elizabeth City.
But crowds of people — dozens at the scene of the shooting and later hundreds protesting in the city's streets — are frustrated by the lack of details released so far. An eyewitness said Brown was shot at multiple times as he drove away.
"The people of Elizabeth City ... they desire a right to know what took place this morning," Councilman Darius J. Horton said at an emergency meeting of the Elizabeth City council on Wednesday evening. Outside the meeting, a crowd gathered, some holding signs proclaiming “Black Lives Matter.”
"There is a moment of hurt in Elizabeth City," Horton said. The municipality, located about 170 miles northeast of Raleigh, is home to about 18,000 people — some of whom, Horton said, felt police violence wouldn't happen in their community.
The investigative process, while necessary, is adding "insult to injury," Horton said, adding body cam footage of the shooting should be released immediately.
“God knows what happened. God knows who did it,” WAVY-TV quotes Martha McCullen, Brown’s aunt.
Brown, who was known by neighbors as “Drew,” wasn’t a violent person, Demetria Williams — a neighbor and witness — told The Associated Press.
“I didn’t believe that (officers) really did that because he wasn’t a threat to them. He was driving off even though he was trying to get away,” said Williams, who lives on the same street and ran out of her house when she heard the gunshots.
The car skidded out of Brown's yard and eventually hit a tree, Williams said.
Court records show Brown was 42 and had a history of drug charges and a misdemeanor drug possession conviction.
Racial justice advocates hoped that this week's guilty verdict against Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd would soon lead to larger systemic changes. But in recent days, fatal police shootings in California, Ohio and now North Carolina have instead drawn national attention.
Among those who gathered at the scene of the shooting was Keith Rivers, president of the Pasquotank County chapter of the NAACP.
“When is it going to stop? We just got a verdict yesterday,” Rivers said in a phone interview, referring to the guilty verdict against Chauvin. “Is it open season now? At some point, it has to stop. We have to start holding the people in charge accountable.”
Brown’s grandmother, Lydia Brown, and his aunt Clarissa Brown Gibson told The Associated Press that they learned about his death through a TV news report. Both said they want the shooting thoroughly investigated.
“I am very upset. Andrew was a good person,” Lydia Brown said. The deputy “didn’t have to shoot him like that.”
Councilman Gabriel Adkins stressed that Brown was shot by a County Sheriff’s deputy, not a member of the city's police force.
Adkins said he was fearful he could become the next victim of police violence.
“Let’s be real. We talk about transparency? I’m going to be transparent: I’m afraid as a Black man, walking around in this city, driving my car down the road," he said.
Contributing: The Associated Press