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North Carolina Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Respond to Court Order Against Release of Body Camera Footage in Fatal Police Shooting of Andrew Brown, Jr. in Elizabeth City

April 28, 2021

The North Carolina chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, released the following statements after a North Carolina court ruled against the immediate release of body camera footage of North Carolina deputies shooting and killing Andrew Brown, Jr., a Black man, while carrying out a search warrant in Elizabeth City last Wednesday. Yesterday, the FBI launched a civil rights probe into his death.

“Today’s ruling is proof that North Carolina’s laws around body camera footage and transparency when it comes to police shootings are woefully flawed,” said Alanna Miller, a volunteer leader with Duke University Students Demand Action. “The least we deserve is transparency, accountability, and desperately needed reforms to a policing system which kills three people in this country every single day – this ruling has painfully delayed the first two and made blatantly obvious how urgent the third is.”

“This disappointing decision further reinforces what Keith Rivers said when we first learned of how police killed Andrew Brown, Jr. – ‘we have to start holding the people in charge accountable’ for the all-too-frequent killings of Black people at the hands of law enforcement, and that starts with the sort of transparency that North Carolina laws currently restrict,” said Antonia Imes, a volunteer with the North Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action. “Our hearts are with Andrew’s grandmother Lydia, his aunt Clarissa, and his whole family and community, and we’ll fight alongside them for accountability and for change. The burden shouldn’t be on grieving families and communities to prove that they deserve transparency.” 

On Tuesday, North Carolina lawmakers filed HB 698, which like SB 510 would require law enforcement to release footage from body-worn cameras within 48 hours of an incident upon request unless the agency receives a court order to seal the video for a set amount of time. Currently, in most cases, a court order is required to view body-worn camera footage from law enforcement. Research suggests that implementing specific use-of-force policies can save lives. One 2016 study of 91 large police departments found adoption of use-of-force reform policies—exhaustion of other means prior to shooting, bans on chokeholds and strangleholds, use-of-force continuum, de-escalation, duty to intervene, restrictions on shootings at moving vehicles, and warning before shooting—was associated with fewer people killed by police. 

Black Americans are shot and killed by police at three times the rate of white Americans, and data from Mapping Police Violence shows that most people killed by police are killed with guns.

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