Family Of Andrew Brown Jr. Sees Unreleased Footage Of Fatal Shooting: ‘It’s A Bad Video And We Want It Out’

Bakari Sellers, Ben Crump, and Harry Daniels, embers of the legal team representing Andrew Brown Jr.s family, standing in front of a memorial outside his home in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. (Photo: Hunter Waker)

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911: Family members of Andrew Brown Jr. were allowed to see a longer excerpt of law enforcement camera videos showing his fatal shooting by sheriff’s deputies in Elizabeth City, North Carolina last month. Bakari Sellers, one of the attorneys representing Brown’s family, told The Uprising that they want the public to see the footage. 

“We saw what we thought we were going to see, which was an unjustified shooting,” Sellers said. “It’s a bad video and we want it out. … We’ll do everything we can to get there.”

Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies shot and killed Brown in his driveway as they attempted to serve him with a felony drug warrant. Sellers and other members of the family’s legal team have pointed to evidence indicating he was shot from behind while driving away from the deputies. Sellers said the family’s lawyers plan to file suit and petition for the release of the footage “over the next few days.” He also described the reaction Brown’s sons had after watching the footage.

“They just saw their father murdered,” Sellers said. “It was rough. They were emotional, grown men emotional.” 

On April 28, Judge Jeffrey Foster delayed release of the footage for at least a month at the request of a local prosecutor, Pasquotank District Attorney Andrew Womble. While Foster acknowledged making the footage public would ultimately “advance a compelling public interest,” he called for the delay due to Womble’s concern that releasing the video would compromise the ongoing investigation. Protesters have taken to the streets in Elizabeth City since the shooting to push for the release of the tape. 

Sellers and the other lawyers representing Brown’s family are calling for Womble to recuse himself from the case due to “well-defined” conflicts of interest stemming from his work with the local sheriff’s department. The legal team is proposing that a special prosecutor take over the case. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has offered to appoint a special prosecutor, but he can only do so if Womble requests one. Womble has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

Rev. Dr. William Barber, a national civil rights leader, was in Elizabeth City on Wednesday and told reporters that Brown’s family saw “twenty minutes of a ... two hour tape.” 

“This is cruel and unusual punishment,” Barber added. “Their loved one is in the grave and yet the tapes are still being hidden.”

Barber echoed the calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor. While the FBI has opened a civil rights probe of the shooting, Barber also wants the Justice Department to investigate the conduct of local officials. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We have one clear message. This DA, this judge, this sheriff have proven themselves inept, incompetent, and incapable of handling this case,” Barber said. “They all need to be recused. We need a special prosecutor. We need a federal pattern and practices review and we need it now. What are they hiding? What do they have to hide?” 

HOLY LAND: Violence between Israeli forces and Palestinians continued to escalate on Tuesday night.

Some of the worst fighting occurred between Hamas forces firing rockets from the occupied Gaza Strip and the Israeli Army conducting airstrikes on various locations in Gaza. Officials said 35 Palestinians — including ten children — were killed and over 200 were wounded in Gaza. In the Tel Aviv area, Israeli officials said five people were killed and at least 100 were wounded. Israel has a robust “Iron Dome” defense system that is used to minimize damage from rocket attacks.

The fighting also included civil unrest in Arab communities across Israel. Jewish Telegraphic Agency DC Bureau Chief Ron Kampeas described that development as particularly “ominous.” 

Here in the U.S., the conflict is posing problems for President Biden, who has largely attempted to stay away from the issue since taking office. The mounting violence is leading some experts to argue Biden must do more.

In New York, the hotly contested mayor’s race provided something of a bellwether for how the issue might play out politically.

Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang continued toface backlash Tuesday after sending out a tweet expressing support for Israel. That episode — including a brief appearance from former Trump administration adviser Stephen Miller — showed Republicans are eager to use the conflict as a wedge issue and exploit divisions among Democrats. Indeed, when Trump weighed in with a statement on his personal blog Tuesday afternoon, he opted for the same tack taken in Miller’s comments on Yang; attempting to link Democrats to criticism of Israel from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and other progressives.

Interestingly, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who along with Yang is leading polls of the mayor’s race, largely avoided controversy after taking a very similar position on the conflict. Sometimes it pays not to be the guy with a major national profile and heavy schedule of live events! 

HARD PARTYING: Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is set to be formally stripped of her position as the third ranked member in House Republican leadership today. In a speech on Tuesday evening, Cheney, who voted to impeach Trump after the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, argued the Republican Party would do itself and the country lasting damage by not refuting the former president’s false claim that his election loss last year was fraudulent.

“Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar,” Cheney said in her speech on the House floor. “I will not participate in that. I will not sit back and watch in silence while others lead our party down a path that abandons the rule of law and joins the former president’s crusade to undermine our democracy.”

A group of 100 other Republicans also made a dramatic statement on Tuesday by announcing they plan to sign a letter tomorrow backing the creation of a third party if the GOP doesn’t break with Trump. That effort has the support of multiple former officials, but no current Republican officeholders. Leaders of the group include Miles Taylor, who served in the Trump administration and later wrote an anonymous tell-all book, and Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer and House staffer who has been a vocal part of the “Never Trump” movement.

While McMullin and the “Never Trump” Republican movement generate tons of media coverage, thus far, their actual impact has been muted. McMullin ran for president in 2016 in an effort to present an alternative to Trump. He didn’t make it onto the ballot in multiple states and earned less than one percent of the national popular vote.

FUN FACT: The Al Aqsa Mosque, which has been a flashpoint for the current fighting in Israel and the Palestinian territories is the third holiest site in Islam after the main mosque surrounding the Kaaba in Mecca and Muhammad’s mosque in Medina. It is known as “The Farthest Mosque.” That name — and some of its religious importance — stem from the fact it was the furthest mosque from the Kaaba in Mecca that was built under Muhammad’s instruction in his lifetime. The location is also known as the culmination of Muhammad’s “Night Journey” that Muslims believe ended with his ascent to heaven.

Al Aqsa is one of the major holy sites at the Temple Mount, known as Haram-al-Sharif in Arabic. This includes the golden Dome of the Rock, which is adjacent to Al Aqsa, and the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism. Jews believe the Western Wall was the location of the Biblical first and second Temples, with the wall being the sole remaining visible piece of those structures.

Traditions from both religions hold that the foundation stone under the Dome of the Rock may have been where Abraham attempted to sacrifice his son. Muslims believe Muhammad ascended to heaven from the stone.

Due to its importance to multiple religions the site has been contested for years. The Muslim portion of the Mount is currently administered by an organization sponsored by the king of Jordan. Due to the tensions, access to the Dome of the Rock is currently restricted to Muslims. At the Western Wall, access is restricted by gender with separate sections for men and women.  

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