May 6, 2021

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Mourners pay tribute to Andrew Brown Jr. with march to memorial service

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Brown was fatally shot by sheriff’s deputies outside his home on April 21.

Amid ongoing protests over the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. by North Carolina sheriff’s deputies, loved ones and supporters of the 42-year-old Black man marched on Sunday afternoon to a museum for a public viewing of his body and memorial service.

The memorial service and public viewing for Brown, who died in a hail of gunfire outside his home on April 21, began at about 3 p.m. at the Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

The Rev. Greg Drumwright, a civil rights activist in Elizabeth City, led Brown’s family on a march to the memorial service.

“Elizabeth City is really standing tall in this moment,” Drumwright told ABC station WTVD in Raleigh-Durham.

Relatives and friends of Brown, a father of seven, gathered earlier Sunday at Horton’s Funeral Home and Cremations Chapel for a private viewing.

Brown’s invitation-only funeral service is scheduled to be held at noon Monday at the Fountain of Life Church in Elizabeth City. The Rev. Al Sharpton is scheduled to give the eulogy.

Sunday marks the 11th straight day of mostly peaceful protests over the death of Brown in Elizabeth City, where the mayor has imposed a nightly curfew and declared a state of emergency over fears the demonstrations could turn violent.

Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten issued a statement Sunday asking protesters to remain peaceful.

“I and the entire Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office fully support the right to peacefully protest and assemble,” Wooten wrote. “The tragic death of Andrew Brown Jr. has deeply impacted many people in our community. This weekend, we ask that everyone respect the family and those mourning. We also ask that everyone respect the hardworking families in Pasquotank County who run small businesses and employ so many in our community.”

Wooten warned that protesters will not be permitted to block intersections and highways or put themselves and others in danger.

“We hope protests this weekend are peaceful; however, we are prepared to ensure the safety of our community in the event of unlawful disruptions,” Wooten wrote.

Protesters have joined Brown’s family in calling on the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office to publicly release all video it has of the shooting, including body camera and patrol car dashcam footage.

Brown’s son, Khalil Ferebee, other family members and one of their lawyers were allowed to view a 20-second body camera clip of the shooting last week at the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Department. Ferebee said the video showed his father being “executed” as he tried to drive away from his home as deputies opened fire on him.

An independent autopsy commissioned by the family showed Brown was shot five times in the incident, including a fatal shot that hit him in the back of his head at the base of his neck, attorneys for the family said at a news conference last week.

During a court hearing on Wednesday, Pasquotank County Superior Court Judge Jeff Foster rejected a request from the local sheriff and multiple media outlets to immediately release the body camera videos that show sheriff’s deputies fatally shooting Brown. The ruling came after Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble told Foster that the release of the video now could jeopardize an investigation of the shooting by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

While Brown was unarmed when he was shot, Womble said during the court hearing that Brown’s car drove toward law enforcement officers and allegedly made contact with deputies twice before shots could be heard on the the video footage of the shooting.

The shooting unfolded around 8:30 a.m. on April 21 when deputies from Pasquotank and Dare counties went to Brown’s home to attempt to serve an arrest warrant on Brown that stemmed from a felony drug investigation, officials said.

Seven Pasquotank County Sheriff’s deputies were initially placed on paid administrative leave.

Wooten on Thursday identified the three deputies who fired shots at Brown as Investigator Daniel Meads, Deputy Sheriff II Robert Morgan and Cpl. Aaron Lewellyn. Wooten said the three deputies remain on leave, while the four others who didn’t fire their weapons in the incident were reinstated to active duty.

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