Wednesday, August 10, 2022

No Charges For US Police Who Shot Black Motorist

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The officers involved in the fatal shooting of a black motorist during an attempted arrest in North Carolina will not face criminal charges.

The Elizabeth City District Attorney told reporters the police shooting of Andrew Brown, 42, was “justified”.

Officials say Mr Brown drove his car at police during the 44-second encounter.

Mr Brown’s family disagree with authorities, and say he was “executed”. An independent inquiry found he was shot five times, including in the back.

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His death on 21 April sparked protests against police brutality, and comes at a time of heightened scrutiny over the use of lethal police force on African-Americans.

What did the district attorney say?

In a news conference on Tuesday, District Attorney Andrew Womble said Mr Brown “posed an immediate threat to the safety of the officers” when he ignored commands and tried to evade arrest, using his car as a “deadly weapon”.

“I find that the facts of this case clearly illustrate the officers who used deadly force on Andrew Brown Jr did so reasonably and only when a violent felon used a deadly weapon to place their lives in danger,” he said.

“The Constitution simply does not require police to gamble with their lives in the face of a serious threat of harm.”

He added that Mr Brown was being served with felony and search warrants, and “they could not simply let him go as has been suggested”.

The district attorney also noted that none of the deputies involved in the incident had prior excessive force complaints.

When questioned over Mr Brown’s intentions, Mr Womble said even though he believes Mr Brown was just trying to flee, “he had no choice but to drive at the officers”.

“When he did that, and he made that decision on his own, he placed their lives in danger.”

Mr Womble said he held Tuesday’s briefing in order to be transparent, given the high profile nature of the case. He defended his decision to not release information earlier, saying it was part of the normal legal process.

No officers were injured in the incident, which took place outside Mr Brown’s Elizabeth City home, Mr Womble said.

Of the 14 shots fired at the vehicle, he noted one appeared to have ricocheted and was found in a nearby house.

Mr Womble told reporters he had not spoken with Mr Brown’s family ahead of the news conference. He said there were “barriers” in speaking with the family and their counsel.

“In all honesty we could’ve done a better job to repair that relationship prior to this,” he said. “It’s unfortunate and I don’t like the way it played out.”

What has the family said?

After reviewing some of the police footage of the shooting at the end of April, the family has denied that Mr Brown was driving towards police when he was shot.

“I saw him executed,” Mr Brown’s son, Khalil Ferebee, said shortly after viewing the footage. “It’s obvious he was trying to get away.”

“Andrew had his hands on his steering wheel. He was not reaching for anything. He wasn’t touching anything,” another lawyer for the family, Chantel Cherry-Lassiter, told reporters.

Ben Crump, one of the lawyers representing the family, told a news conference “it was a kill shot to the back of the head”.

Mr Crump has represented other families in high-profile police shootings of African-Americans, including the relatives of George Floyd.

Following Tuesday’s briefing, civil rights leader Rev Al Sharpton called Mr Womble’s defence “bizarre and unconvincing”, and said federal officials and a special prosecutor should take on the case.

Last month, the FBI said it had opened a civil rights investigation into the incident to “determine whether federal laws were violated”.

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

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