A North Carolina judge on Wednesday declined to OK the public release of the bodycam footage showing the death of Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City last week. State law puts the authority to release such videos in the hands of the courts, not law enforcement agencies. NPR reports a group of media organizations had sought the release, but Superior Court Judge Jeff Foster ruled they didn't have the grounds to make that request and that the release could imperil the investigation or the officers' safety. As such, he said the videos should be released when the investigation is complete and specified that release should happen in no less than 30 days but no more than 45. Foster said certain relatives of Brown's will be permitted to view the videos, which include four bodycam videos and one dashcam video, reports the News & Observer.
Officers' faces, name tags, and any other identifying info will be blurred, and the family will not be allowed to keep any copies. Pasquotank County Attorney Mike Cox conveyed the sheriff's office's position in court, saying the footage should be released to "give the public some ability to understand what happened that day." Attorneys for Brown's family held a press conference Tuesday to discuss the results of an autopsy they commissioned. It shows that the 42-year-old Black man died after a "kill shot to the back of the head" was delivered as he sat in his car outside his home in the city, lawyers said. CNN reports that during Wednesday's hearing, Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble said that when officers tried to open Brown's car door to execute a warrant, the car moved backward and then forward, making contact with officers both times. (Read more Andrew Brown stories.)