Apr 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

FBI opens civil rights probe into fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr.

Photo of a person pointing to a poster showing a person's head and where they were shot
Wayne Kendall, one of the lawyers representing the family of Andrew Brown Jr., points to an autopsy chart showing where Brown was shot. Photo: Joe Raedle via Getty Images

The FBI confirmed Tuesday it will open a civil rights investigation into the death of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man fatally shot by sheriff's deputies in North Carolina last week.

The big picture: Police in Elizabeth City shot Brown five times, including in the back of his head, according to an independent autopsy report released by family attorneys Tuesday. The autopsy was performed Sunday by a pathologist hired by the family.

  • The attorneys also released a copy of Brown's death certificate, which cited his cause of death as a "penetrating gunshot wound of the head."

Catch up quick: Brown was killed Wednesday after police attempted to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants. Family attorneys said he was driving away with his hands on the wheel when police opened fire.

  • Brown's death prompted protests in Elizabeth City, with many calling for the release of body camera footage.
  • At a news conference on Monday, family attorneys said authorities shared 20 seconds of footage from one deputy's body camera. At least eight deputies appear in the video, attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said.
  • "They’re shooting and saying 'let me see your hands' at the same time," she added. "His car is riddled with bullets."

What they're saying: "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,” an FBI spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

  • "As this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further."

Brown family lawyers said in a statement they have "great faith that this caliber of an investigation will prevent any obscuring of the facts released to the Brown family and public, and will overcome any local bias that may prevent justice from being served."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the statement from lawyers representing the Brown family.

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