Protesters demand bodycam video in Andrew Brown Jr.'s shooting be made public

Protesters are demanding that bodycam footage in the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. be released. Elizabeth City is enforcing a midnight curfew as protests over his death continue. Zak Dahlheimer, an anchor and reporter at WTKR in Virginia, has an update on the protests and the efforts to have the bodycam video made public.

Video Transcript

LANA ZAK: Officials in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, have pushed back their nightly curfew as protests grow over the police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. Police have filled the-- people have filled the streets every day for the past week and a half. They're protesting the shooting by the sheriff's department and are demanding officials release all body cam footage of the incident.

Brown died on April 21. Seven deputies arrived at his home to serve a warrant as part of a drug investigation. The sheriff's department defended the manpower by saying that Brown had a history of resisting arrest. Three deputies who fired their weapons during the incident remain on leave, four others have returned to work.

I want to bring in Zak Dahlheimer. He's an anchor and reporter at WTKR, our affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia. Good to have you here. So what do we know about the moments leading up to Brown's death?

ZAK DAHLHEIMER: Lana, thank you very much for having me. We do know that-- we have to go back probably a day before, on April 20, where a judge signed that search and arrest warrant for Brown related to beliefs of possible drug trafficking going down. And as you mentioned, seven deputies, we were told, initially were placed on administrative leave.

We know that four deputies who did not fire their weapons are told to be back on active duty. An independent autopsy that was released by attorneys tell us that Brown was shot multiple times in his arm and shot once in the back of his head. But really, the main center point of all these protests that have been happening since his death for about a week and a half now have been revolving around that body cam footage of the incident to be publicly released.

LANA ZAK: I want to get into that body cam footage. But before we do, I want to talk to you about the nightly curfew in Elizabeth City, because it was extended on Friday. It's now midnight. What is going on with these time changes?

ZAK DAHLHEIMER: Well, city leaders said that they made this-- as far as with the curfew as well as the permit process, they did it because they want to protect the protesters and property, namely. Some have argued against the curfew, saying that it's adding tension in the area. But all-- but city leaders have said that while the majority of these protests have been peaceful, there have been some instances of violence. One instance they named some rocks being thrown at law enforcement. So really, the main point of this when it comes to the curfew and the permitting process is to, according to city leaders, to protect the protesters as well as property in the area.

LANA ZAK: Well, the city is saying that protesters have to apply for a permit to be able to protest after the curfew. Talk to us a little bit more about this new permit requirement and how people there are reacting to it.

ZAK DAHLHEIMER: Yes. So you have to file a specific amount of time before a-- an event is to take place. This was recently put in after the curfew had been in place from-- originally it was 8 o'clock to 6:00 AM, but now, of course, it's midnight to 6:00 AM. But again, this all comes down to the city wanting to protect protesters, to keep it peaceful, as well as protect property and that way there's no damage surrounding the area.

LANA ZAK: And much of what the protesters are demanding is the release of this body-- this body cam footage. And despite these calls, only the family has been able to see a small fraction of this body cam footage. The county sheriff has said that he thinks that the footage should be released. So why has the video not been made public, Zak? And is that expected to change?

ZAK DAHLHEIMER: Well, Lana, under North Carolina State law, body cam footage is not considered public record, and therefore in order to be released, you would need a court order for that. So a judge recently ruled, I believe it was on Wednesday in a court hearing to release that body cam footage, that he ruled against the immediate release, citing it would be a threat to a fair and impartial-- impartial look at obtaining justice within this case.

And of course, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten said he wanted this body cam footage to be publicly released. And of course, after that, a protest continued that Wednesday night and they have been now for about a week and a half, really starting hours since Brown's death. So really the next point now, Lana, is that he says-- the judge, rather, says he will revisit this case within 30 to 45 days to give the State Bureau of Investigation time to do their work.

In the meantime, along with the SBI, the-- we're told that the FBI is also conducting a federal civil rights investigation to see if any federally-- federal laws were obstructed within this incident. And the governor, Roy Cooper, has also called for a special prosecutor to look into this incident as well. So as far as what's next, protesters say that they're going to be still calling for answers, peacefully and nonviolent. And we'll have to see what the judge does when he revisits this in the coming weeks.

LANA ZAK: All right, Zak Dahlheimer, thank you for joining us.

ZAK DAHLHEIMER: Thank you for having me.