“We will move fairly quickly on that matter to go before the court to make our arguments to get the videos released,” attorney Harry Daniels said.
Brown was fatally shot April 21 when Pasquotank County deputies in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, were trying to execute a warrant. The community and family have called for the release of the footage since, especially as their attorneys and prosecutors differed over whether Brown was driving toward officers or away when they opened fire.
Though a North Carolina law prevented the footage from being released publicly without a court order, the family was shown a snippet of footage in April. And on Tuesday, they were shown a series of videos from the scene.
Family attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter said that Brown’s sons were shown less than 20 minutes of the 2 hours of body camera footage that exists. That was all the court had authorized to be shown to the family, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten said.
“It was my hope that we will be able to release the video publicly so everyone could see for themselves what happened,” Wooten said.
“Today was an emotional day, I was able to view the footage with two of Mr. Brown’s sons,” Lynch said. “We were absolutely able to see Mr. Brown sitting in his car, afraid. The look on his face, he was terrified and was in shock when they arrived on the scene.”
Attorneys call shooting ‘absolutely, unequivocally, unjustified’
Even with limited footage, attorneys for the family said that what the video showed them was that the shooting was “absolutely, unequivocally, unjustified.”
In the bodycam footage, Lynch says he saw Brown ambushed while sitting in his vehicle. At all times his hands were visible, Brown was possibly on his phone at the time, and he did not pose a threat to law enforcement, the attorney said.
A first shot was fired, at which time Brown put his car in reverse, “several feet, if not yards away, from the police who were there,” Lynch said. In the videos viewed Tuesday afternoon, Lynch said he saw Brown turn his wheel to the left, and away from law enforcement, and that police officers were not visible behind his vehicle.
“At no point did we ever see Mr. Brown make contact with law enforcement,” Lynch told reporters. “We were able to see where they possibly reached out to make contact to him, but we did not see any actions on Mr. Brown’s part where he made contact with them or try to go in their direction. In fact, he did just the opposite.”
Lynch said that Brown went in the opposite direction of a group of officers in front of his vehicle, and that a second shot was fired as he turned to the left to go across his yard.
“There were so many shots, that we found difficulty in counting the number of shots that his vehicle received. At some point, there was a final shot, where it appeared that at that final shot Mr. Brown lost control,” the attorney said.
Brown’s older son, Khalil Ferebee, has seen the footage twice, Lassiter told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. She said she imagined it was “very traumatizing for a young man to see his father murdered over and over again.”
In dispatch audio from April 21, when Brown was fatally shot, first responders can be heard saying a man had gunshot wounds to the back. A copy of Brown’s death certificate says he died as a result of a gunshot wound of the head.
According to the arrest warrant, issued on April 20 and obtained by CNN on Thursday, Brown “unlawfully, willfully, and feloniously did possess with the intent to sell and deliver a controlled substance, namely approximately three grams of cocaine.”
Ferebee said after viewing the 20-second clip that he saw his father driving away from the deputies, not toward them.
Womble said April 28 that Brown’s car in the video was stationary when officers approached shouting commands. As officers attempted to open a door on the car, the vehicle backed up and made contact with an officer.
Womble said the car then stopped before moving forward and again made contact with law enforcement. After the car moved forward, shots are heard, Womble said.
Attorneys for Brown’s family have called for Womble to recuse himself from the case, citing “well-defined” conflicts between the prosecutor and the sheriff’s office.
“There is no doubt all seven officers involved, including the three shooters, have worked directly with you and your office for years in prosecuting various cases,” the family attorneys wrote in a letter to Womble last week.
The letter, signed by family attorney Bakari Sellers, asked that “in the interest of fairness, transparency and pursuit of the ends of justice” Womble move the case to another jurisdiction and “immediately recuse yourself.”
“You and your office not only work with Sheriff Wooten and his deputies daily, your office physically resides in the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s department,” the attorneys wrote. “The conflict is well-defined.”
A state investigation into Brown’s death “remains ongoing,” a spokesperson for North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation told CNN on Tuesday.
Public information officer Anjanette Grube said that, due to the many variables in the investigation, the agency was unable to provide a timeline of when it might conclude.