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N.C. Court Considers Release Of Bodycam Video, Brown Family Releases Autopsy

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We still have very little information directly from authorities about the death of Andrew Brown Jr. He's a North Carolina man shot by police last week. Authorities say they are working to release a video showing his death. But so far, the information we have comes from family attorneys who have seen some video and who now say they have results of an independent autopsy. Well, what does that show?

NPR national correspondent Sarah McCammon is in Elizabeth City, N.C. Sarah, good morning once again.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What did this private autopsy find?

MCCAMMON: So lawyers for Andrew Brown Jr.'s family spoke to reporters yesterday. And they say the autopsy they commissioned found that he was shot five times in total by sheriff's deputies executing that warrant last week, four times in the arm, including a couple of graze wounds and once, fatally, in the back of his head. And this is how his son Khalil Ferebee put it during that press conference yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

KHALIL FEREBEE: Yesterday, I said he was executed. This autopsy report shows me that was correct. Those three gunshots to the arm, that wasn't enough? That wasn't enough? It's obvious he was trying to get away. It's obvious.

MCCAMMON: And during that press conference, Steve, we also learned that arrangements are being made for Andrew Brown. Jr.'s funeral. Lawyers say it'll be next Monday at noon here in Elizabeth City.

INSKEEP: Who was he as a person?

MCCAMMON: Well, I've spent some time in recent days in the neighborhood where Brown was killed, talking to residents here. This is kind of a smaller community. People know people. And they describe him as a good father, someone who did whatever he could to take care of his seven children. He did have a history of run-ins with the law, but people who knew him say he was a gentle, kind, nonviolent person. They can't understand how a warrant could lead to his death. And I spoke to another of his sons yesterday, Jarod Ferebee, by phone.

JAROD FEREBEE: Whether he know you or not, he'll help you out and do as much as he can for you. You know, he was very loving, very caring. He cared about his children. He cared about everyone, you know.

MCCAMMON: And Ferebee described his dad as someone who was always smiling, regardless of what was going on in his life at the time, and someone who cared about making other people happy.

INSKEEP: I think this case is a reminder of the age we're living in, in that a case like this might have happened 10 or 20 or 30 years ago, and it would have been a local news story, if anything. Now it's a national news story. People are eager, desperate even, for information. How local or national are the protests surrounding his death?

MCCAMMON: Well, there are certainly some nationally known lawyers working with and for the family. But the protests, so far, have felt pretty local. I mean, as I mentioned, this is - Elizabeth City's basically a small town - 18,000 people. It's got kind of this sleepy, historic feel with cobblestones and lots of old homes. And residents have told me repeatedly they want things to be peaceful. They want protests to be peaceful. But yesterday, during the press conference, there was a verbal clash between the lawyers for the Brown family and some protesters who said they'd come from out of town. They were wearing insignia of the New Black Panther Party, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a hate group. And I want to play a bit of that exchange. This is attorney Bakari Sellers talking with some of those protesters who were calling for violence in response to police killings of Black people.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BAKARI SELLERS: My brothers, this is a message for everyone watching.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: ...Dirty, slimy, filthy cops.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Unintelligible) The police...

SELLERS: Hey, you don't have to like us. That's fine. But please have respect for the family.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: We don't need no...

MCCAMMON: So with those kinds of concerns in mind, Steve, the city has declared a state of emergency, and there was a curfew in place last night.

INSKEEP: All of this as we await more information. The FBI, we should note, has now begun its own civil rights investigation. And there's still the question of the North Carolina authorities releasing the video. When, if at all, might that happen?

MCCAMMON: Right. It's a civil rights investigation the FBI has opened to determine if any federal laws were violated. The governor here is calling for a special prosecutor to handle this. And there is a hearing today to consider requests to release all of the body cam footage from the shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. last week. That's something the family and civil rights activists have been asking for for days.

INSKEEP: NPR's Sarah McCammon, thanks so much.

MCCAMMON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.