ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. — The Rev. Al Sharpton issued a powerful call for transparency and the release of body camera footage at the funeral Monday for Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man shot and killed by deputies in North Carolina, with the civil rights leader likening withholding the video to a “con” job done on the public.
“I know a con game when I see it. Release the whole tape and let the folks see what happened to Andrew Brown,” Sharpton told mourners in a scorching eulogy at the invitation-only service at a church in Elizabeth City.
“You don’t need time to get a tape out. Put it out! Let the world see what there is to see. If you’ve got nothing to hide, then what are you hiding?” he said, to loud applause.
A judge ruled last week that the video would not be made public for at least a month to avoid interference with a pending state investigation into the April 21 shooting of Brown, 42, by deputies attempting to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants.
An independent autopsy commissioned by his family said Brown was shot five times, including once in the back of the head. Family members who were privately shown a portion of the body camera video say Brown was trying to drive away when he was shot. The shooting sparked days of protests in the city in rural northeastern North Carolina.
Other speakers included Brown’s sons as well as civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Brown’s family. Calling Brown’s death an “unjustifiable, reckless shooting,” Crump told mourners the legal team would continue fighting for justice and transparency.
“We are here to make this plea for justice because Andrew was killed unjustifiably, as many Black men in America have been killed: shot in the back. Shot, going away from the police. And because Andrew cannot make the plea for justice, it is up to us to make the plea for justice,” Crump said.
Relatives of other Black men killed by law enforcement officers, including siblings of George Floyd, Eric Garner’s mother and Daunte Wright’s sister also spoke at the service. Bridgett Floyd described the “sleepless nights, long days, heartache and pain” that she knows Brown’s family is facing, having experienced the killing of her brother by a police officer in Minnesota who was later convicted of murder.