Hundreds of supporters of Andrew Brown Jr.’s family filed past his open casket on Sunday a day before his funeral, and went on to hold a peaceful protest calling for police to release the bodycam footage of his death.
Brown, 42, was shot and killed while at the wheel of his car in his driveway by Pasquotank County deputies serving drug-related search and arrest warrants in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, at 8.30am on April 21.
Mourners gathered on Sunday, the day before his funeral, as his body was displayed at two locations in the city.
Community members began their march with a viewing of Brown Jr’s body at Horton’s Funeral Home.
His coffin was covered with a satin sheet, and surrounded by vases of red roses.
Among the mourners paying their respects were Brown’s family, friends, and neighbors, as well as local faith and city leaders.
Brown’s body was later moved to an auditorium at the Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City, where around 300 people had viewed it by late afternoon, The News & Observer reported.
Edwin and Ella Newby pay their respects in front of the open casket of Andrew Brown Jr. at a funeral home in Hertford
Protestors comfort one another at a peaceful demonstration on Sunday morning – a day before Andrew Brown is due to be buried
A funeral home employee stands near the open casket of Andrew Brown Jr. during a viewing in Hertford, North Carolina
Mourners Edwin and Ella Newby watch a slideshow of Brown’s life beside his coffin at Horton’s Funeral Home in Hertford, North Carolina
Andrew Brown was shot by deputies in North Carolina on April 21 while executing an arrest warrant
The solemn procession moved on to nearby Waterfront Park, where community members held a press briefing to once again call for police to release the video footage.
On Wednesday, a judge refused to release body cam footage of Brown being shot dead after a prosecutor said he hit deputies with his car before they fired the shots that killed him.
Judge Jeffrey Foster denied a media petition to release the footage publicly for at least 30 days, saying it might impede the ongoing investigation.
Since Brown’s death on April 21, the city of Elizabeth City was rocked by nearly two weeks of consecutive protests calling for greater transparency from law enforcement, which saw demonstrators and police clash in the streets.
However, Sunday’s march had two themes according to local clergy: peace and community.
‘We’re building a community around Andrew Brown’s death because what happens here in Pasquotank is happening all over,’ organizer Rev. Greg Drumwright told Wavy.com.
‘We’re going to keep applying pressure from all sides from activism to policy shaping to make sure that there’s some change in this county and throughout North Carolina,’ he said.
The FBI´s Charlotte field office, which opened a civil rights investigation into Brown´s death, said in a statement earlier in the week that its agents planned to work closely with the Department of Justice ‘to determine whether federal laws were violated.’
Afterwards, lawyers for the Brown family said they have ‘great faith’ in the investigation.
They also called separate footage taken by a neighbor of the moment a large group of cops surrounded Brown Jr.’s car ‘an inflamed modern-day lynch mob’.
The independent autopsy was performed last week by a pathologist hired by Brown’s family. The exam noted four wounds to the right arm and one to the head. The state´s autopsy has not been released yet.
Two of Brown’s children pose along with family members next to where a mural of Brown has been painted on the side of a house
A protester carries a sign that reads ‘Blue Lives Murder’ as people took to the streets of Elizabeth City in North Carolina once again to call for the release of bodycam footage
A protester looks out at a crowd gathered outside the Pasquatank County sheriff’s building eleven days after deputies killing Andrew Brown
Local artist and business owner Ulysses Edwards, with microphone, speaks at the home of Andrew Brown Jr. during a stop in a march. Edwards spoke about painting a memorial mural in honor of Brown on the side of Brown’s home
Andrew Brown Jr., who was killed by law enforcement on April 21, poses with his daughter in an undated photograph
The family’s lawyers also released a copy of the death certificate, which lists the cause of death as a ‘penetrating gunshot wound of the head.’
The certificate, signed by a paramedic services instructor who serves as a local medical examiner, describes the death as a homicide.
Brown’s family have carried out a pathology report which showed he was shot four times in the arm and once in the back of the head.
They have called the killing an ‘execution’.
Terrell Green, a cousin of Brown’s, came to pay his respects on Sunday morning.
Green told The News & Observer he was with Brown on the night that he died.
He said he had attended the nightly protests, where marchers demanded the release of all camera footage and vehicle dash cameras.
‘I just feel like they’re trying to hide something,’ Green said. ‘We just want the truth.’
North Carolina NAACP president Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman told Wavy.com : ‘I think they’re encouraged by the consistency that they’ve been seeing coming out of the community. And I believe the community will continue to do things that are sustainable for them and continue to embrace and support them moving forward.’
Mourners will gather on Monday for Brown’s funeral, with eulogists planning to celebrate his legacy and reflect on his life.
The invite-only service at noon in a church in Elizabeth City follows public viewings the previous day.
The Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy, and other speakers will include Brown’s relatives as well as civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who´s representing Brown´s family, and the Rev. William Barber II, leader of the Poor People’s campaign.
Family members have said that Brown was a proud father of seven, who was known for entertaining relatives with his stories and jokes.
Brown’s family asked Sharpton to deliver the eulogy because they felt the civil rights leader would properly honor his legacy. Sharpton recently delivered the eulogy for Daunte Wright, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Minnesota.
Sharpton told The Associated Press that he wants to both celebrate Brown´s life and help call attention to larger problems with policing that need to be addressed.
‘I would want to get across that this is a human being. And for us, it´s part of a continual abuse of police power,’ he said.