The fatal shooting of Andrew Brown, a black man killed last month by sheriff’s deputies attempting to serve search and arrest warrants, was justified, Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble says.
Brown, 42, was shot as he resisted arrest during the morning raid at his home on April 21 in Elizabeth City, a riverfront community where just over half of the roughly 18,000 residents are black.
“Mr Brown’s death was justified,” Womble told reporters at a news briefing in which he also showed video taken from the body-worn cameras of the officers at the scene.
He said the video showed police behaving as any reasonable police officer would “when a violent felon used a deadly weapon to place their lives in danger,” describing how Brown drove his car toward them in a dangerous way.
The officers would not face criminal charges, he said.
“The constitution simply does not require police to gamble with their lives in the face of a serious threat,” Womble said.
“They could not simply have let him go as has been suggested.”
The killing captured attention across the US, coming a day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd in a highly publicised trial.
The videos showed Brown ignoring police commanding him to get out of his car, which he instead drove in the direction of officers, forcing at least one of them to lunge out of the way.
Police began firing at the car: one shot went through Brown’s windshield and another five entered the car’s trunk.
Brown suffered two gunshot wounds: a non-lethal shot to the shoulder and a fatal shot to the back of his head.
“Mr Brown’s actions caused three deputies with the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s office to reasonably believe it was necessary to use deadly force to protect themselves and others,” Womble told reporters.
Womble said Brown was known to officers as having a long history of arrests and convictions dating back to 1995, including assault with a deadly weapon.
Before heading to Brown’s home, officers were told that Brown had a history of resisting arrest or barricading himself against police, Womble said.
Crystal meth, an illegal stimulant, was found in Brown’s car, a chunk about as big as “a 50-cent piece,” Womble said.
Lawyers for Brown’s family had previously said a 20-second portion of the video they were allowed to see showed he was “executed” by the officers, describing how they continued shooting at him as he drove away from them.