Gov. Cooper says special prosecutor should be appointed to handle case of man shot, killed by law enforcement in Elizabeth City

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper speaks during a briefing at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, June 2, 2020. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) — Governor Roy Cooper released a statement on Tuesday afternoon, saying he believes a special prosecutor should be appointed to handle all matters related to the shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City.

The governor’s statement is provided below:

“In the interest of justice and confidence in the judicial system, I believe a special prosecutor should handle all matters regarding the shooting in Pasquotank County. This would help assure the community and Mr. Brown’s family that a decision on pursuing criminal charges is conducted without bias. This position is consistent with the change in the law recommended by our Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice which calls for a special prosecutor in police shootings, and I believe the law should be changed to help ensure it.”

You can read the full report of the North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice here. 

Attorneys for Brown’s family said an independent autopsy shows that he was shot five times, including a shot in the back of the head, as officials worked to release bodycam footage of the shooting.

Brown, a 42-year-old Black man from Elizabeth City, was shot to death by one or more deputy sheriffs trying to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants. An eyewitness said Brown tried to drive away but was shot dead in his car. The shooting has prompted protests and demands for accountability in the eastern North Carolina city of about 18,000. Elizabeth City set a curfew starting at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Attorney Wayne Kendall said Tuesday that an independent pathologist hired by Andrew Brown Jr.’s family examined his body. Two shots to Brown’s right arm penetrated the skin and two other shots to the arm grazed him, Kendall said. The pathologist could not determine the distance from which they were fired.

Brown was shot in the back of the head in what lawyers called a “kill shot.” The pathologist who performed the autopsy did not speak at the news conference and did not appear to be there.

The state’s autopsy has not been released yet. The family’s lawyers also released a copy of the death certificate, which lists the cause of death as a “penetrating gunshot wound of the head.” It describes the death as a homicide. NewsNation is working to obtain a copy of the death certificate.

The pathologist, North Carolina-based Dr. Brent Hall, noted a wound to the back of Brown’s head from an undetermined distance that penetrated his skull and brain. He said there was no exit wound.

The FBI announced Tuesday that’s launching a federal civil rights investigation into the case.

“Agents will work closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina and the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice to determine whether federal laws were violated,” said FBI spokeswoman Shelley Lynch. “As this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further.”

The release of the autopsy comes one day after Brown’s family and attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter viewed 20 seconds of body camera video of the fatal shooting which appeared to show Brown with his hands on the car steering wheel before being shot by deputies

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