At North Carolina funeral of black man shot to death by police, mourners call for reform By Reuters

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2/2 © Reuters. Horse drawn carriage transports the coffin of Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City 2/2

By Jonathan Drake ELIZABETH CITY, North Carolina (Reuters) – Family, friends and civil rights leaders gathered at a North Carolina church Monday to mourn Andrew Brown, a black man shot and killed last month by police officers. Sheriff, the latest in a nationwide series of murders to trigger racial justice lawsuits. Speaking about Brown’s coffin, the Rev. Al Sharpton told the congregation that the drive to reform police in the United States was a chapter in a decades-long struggle by African Americans. “We must deal with inequality in the criminal justice system today,” Sharpton said, his voice booming at Fountain of Life Church in Elizabeth City. “That is the sign of the time.” Authorities said Brown, 42, was fatally shot during a morning raid of his home on April 21 when Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Deputies attempted to serve him search and arrest warrants. His death in unclear circumstances has garnered national attention. It came a day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd in a highly publicized trial. Brown’s shooting, and authorities’ decision not to immediately release video of the incident, sparked suspicions and several boisterous but peaceful demonstrations in Elizabeth City, a riverside community whose population of approximately 18,000 is half African-American. “I know a scam game when I see it,” Sharpton said. “Post the whole tape and let people see what happened to Andrew Brown.” “If he did it wrong, take him to court,” he added. “But you have no right to take him to his funeral.” A North Carolina judge on Wednesday rejected requests to release four body-worn police camera videos of the shooting, citing arguments that their immediate release could jeopardize active investigations. Superior Court Judge Jeff Foster said he was delaying the release for 30 to 45 days to allow state investigators and the local prosecutor to complete their investigations. Accounts of the incident from people who have viewed some of the videos have varied widely. Attorneys for Brown’s family said a 20-second portion of the video they were allowed to watch showed he was “executed” by officers. The family said officers continued to shoot him in the driveway after he walked away from them. But Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble said officers fired only after Brown’s car approached and contacted them. A private autopsy by Brown’s family found that he received five bullets, including one fatal to the back of the skull. Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten and Deputy Police Chief Daniel Fogg have said the shooting occurred as officers were attempting to serve Brown’s arrest and search warrants stemming from a felony drug offense, adding that Brown had a history of resisting arrest. (This story inserts the deleted word “by” in the title)

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