Why District Attorney Andrew Womble is not prosecuting the Andrew Brown Jr. case
Womble came to his conclusion after reviewing the evidence and considering the standard for assessing the use of force by police officers. Womble said courts have ruled that officials can use lethal force to protect themselves from the lethal violence of someone they are trying to arrest or to detain someone who is “at imminent risk of death or serious injury.” represents others unless he is immediately arrested “.
Womble said his review of the evidence, based on state law and Supreme Court rulings, does not allow him to use the “2020 Retrospective Vision”. The review “must take into account the fact that law enforcement officers are often forced to render fractions of a second judgment in tense, unsafe, and rapidly evolving circumstances.”
“In assessing the extent of the violence used, a prosecutor must carefully consider the facts and circumstances of the individual case, including the gravity of the crime in question, whether the suspect poses an imminent threat to the safety of officials or others, and whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempted to escape arrest, “said Womble. “I find that the facts of this case make it clear that the officers who used lethal force against Andrew Brown Jr. did so sensibly and only when a violent criminal used a lethal weapon to endanger his life . ”
Family attorneys Ben Crump, Bakari Sellers, Harry Daniels and Chantel Cherry-Lassiter issued a statement Tuesday saying prosecutors tried to “whitewash” the April 21 murder in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
“To say that this shooting was justified despite the known facts is both an insult and a slap in the face to Andrew’s family, the Elizabeth City community and rational people everywhere,” they said.
The FBI has separately announced an investigation into federal civil rights.
What does the video show?
The video shows officers approaching a car while in the back of a pickup truck. The officers approach the car on foot. After the vehicle reverses, officers who are still on foot surround the car and at least one moves away from the path of the car as he moves toward the officer. The first person who fired at the car, according to Womble, was a sergeant who shot a lap through the windshield. Others shoot while the vehicle drives on foot from the officers across a courtyard to two police vehicles, according to Womble.
The sheriff’s office has at least six videos that media organizations have requested to be published in a North Carolina court. It is possible that there are others, but the entire contents of the investigation file are not public. The state investigative agency said they would not release the recordings despite media, lawyers or others asking the court to order their release.
A judge ruled Monday that they would not be released, according to a court file obtained from CNN. But the sheriff’s office is seeking their release, and the North Carolina governor has called for specific laws to be passed “to increase transparency and accountability in the judicial system.” So far, the video evidence has only been played at the press conference and has not been passed on to the media.
Should they shoot if he escapes?
Womble said he thought Brown was fleeing because he didn’t want to be caught with drugs that were later found in his car and in his mouth. Brown was shot twice, including once in the back of the head, while trying to escape officers, Womble said.
There is no law preventing the police from violently arresting a person or from violently preventing that person from harming others just because that person is fleeing the police. Police officers may use force to detain suspects who have escaped. However, according to the department’s legal doctrine and guidelines, officers may only use lethal force if a suspect poses an imminent threat of injury or death to the officers or others. Womble said courts have ruled that officers can use lethal force in two situations: to protect themselves from the lethal violence of someone they are trying to arrest, or to take custody of someone who is “an imminent threat of death or death.” constitutes serious injury to others unless arrested immediately. “
Womble’s determination was that Brown’s escape posed a threat.
“All of these officials were potentially at risk from Brown’s operation of the vehicle,” said Womble. “Brown threatened the life and safety of the local officials and any civilian bystanders, and gave a reasonable officer a compelling reason to end the encounter.”
Later in Tuesday’s press conference, Womble explained his stance to a reporter.
“I think Mr. Brown’s intention was to get away. I think Mr. Brown escaped arrest because Mr. Brown had drugs on himself and in his car and I think he didn’t want to be caught with those, so I think Mr. Brown fled, “said Womble. “The position of the officers around the car is why he drove on them. He had no choice but to flee, he had no choice but to drive straight at the officers. When he did that, and he did that. He made up his own mind and put her life in danger. “
Departments may have policies that restrict police behavior more than the law, but these are established by individual departments and enforced as employment rather than criminal. Departments across the country treat this investigation and how it is disciplined differently.
For example, some departments, such as the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office, do not recommend shooting escaping cars. But it’s not a strict ban.
Could the MPs let him go?
Womble said officers serving an arrest warrant were required to take custody of Brown, whose arrest was ordered by a judge. The officers were serving two arrest warrants and a search warrant and were “obliged to assert themselves,” he said. “You couldn’t just let him go as suggested.”
“Why couldn’t you let him go right now and follow up later?” asked a reporter.
“You had an arrest warrant … you are demanding that the prosecution not act on the orders of a search warrant and give way to citizens if they choose not to be detained.”
He also said the speed Brown was driving was not relevant. The video shows the vehicle backwards and then towards officers who had surrounded the car with guns drawn.
“Brown’s own decision to flee quickly escalated the situation from a demonstration of violence to an use of violence,” he said. “Brown’s exact speed in attempting to escape and hit (a deputy) is uncertain. But that he drove recklessly and endangered the officers is not uncertain.”
“The courts have ruled that the Constitution simply does not require the police to play with their lives in the face of serious risk of harm,” he said.
What should officers do in this situation?
Womble said officers wanted to arrest Brown the night before, but he was not home and he was discovered that morning. When Brown got home that morning, officers thought he was going in, but he remained his car. Then officials approached him.
There are no uniform standards governing what officers should “do” in this situation, as most situations of use of force develop quickly and are unique to the circumstances of the moment.
Each department has its own rules, and officers are also subject to laws and court decisions. These provide a framework for the conduct of officers in all aspects of their work – not just for serving arrest warrants.
With regards to warrants, departments calculate the level of risk they want to take in the delivery of warrants and make tactical decisions to decide how and when to deliver them. Some use heavy vehicles and on-stage ambulances nearby. In this case, the MPs drove on the back of a van.
The sheriff’s office could have used more or fewer MPs to deliver the warrant, or use different vehicles, or adjust the time of day for the warrant to be served, or adjust their approach in any other way that they believe would have achieved custody for Brown.
But Womble said MPs had an obligation to take Brown into custody. And when they approached him, said Womble, he tried to escape in a way that put her and others in danger of harm.
A review of the incident by an outside expert revealed that the shooting was “a direct response to the imminent threat of serious bodily harm”. It was also suggested that the sheriff’s office should evaluate how it issues warrants.
“I also see the need to evaluate the tactics used to deliver search warrants, arrest warrants and conduct vehicle inspections and vehicle attacks,” wrote expert Paul Ohl. Ohl wrote that his review was completed before the District Attorney gave any opinion or decision.
“I also recommend expanding the documentation of pre-mission threat assessments and briefings. The tactical law enforcement arena is constantly changing, and ongoing evaluation of an agency’s policies, procedures, resources, and training is a necessity to maximize security for citizens , Law enforcement personnel and improving organizational professionalism. “
The three MPs who shot Brown will be reinstated, Pasquotank Sheriff Tommy Wooten said in a video statement after the district attorney announced the shooting was warranted and no charges would be brought.
Wooten called Brown’s death “a terrible and tragic outcome” and said the entire team was being reconfigured and retrained.