Justified Shooting: North Carolina District Attorney Announces That No Charges Against Officers In Brown Case

We previously discussed the shooting of Andrew Brown, 42, one of a number of recent police shootings sparking protests. The body camera footage has now been released with a decision not to charge any officer. The finding of a justified shooting is based on facts that are sharply different from those reported at the time in media coverage. It appears that Brown did come into contact with officers with his car, though Brown appears to be trying to evade the officers who surrounded the car.  The Brown family previously declared that the videotape showed that he did not drive toward the deputies which now does not appear to be the case.

District Attorney Andrew Womble said that Brown was shot at by three Pasquotank deputies who were justified in the use of lethal force “to protect themselves and others.” The evidence presented included four body camera videos showing Brown refusing to heed repeated warnings to stop and then driving his car directly at one of the officers. The first round was fired from the front of the vehicle, not the back as widely reported.

The actions unfold quickly. It seems to me that Brown was clearly fleeing and that his movements with the car were efforts to escape. It did not seem that he was necessarily trying to run over deputies but he did accelerate in their direction.

Here is Womble’s account:

Deputy Lunsford’s hand was still on the driver’s door handle as Brown’s car reversed and the handle was snatched out of his hand. At this moment, Deputy Lunsford yelled out, and Deputy Lunsford was pulled over the hood of Brown’s vehicle where his body and safety equipment were struck by the vehicle. Deputy Lunsford’s left arm was squarely on the hood. Deputy Lunsford took evasive action to get out of the way of the front left tire of Brown’s vehicle, and law enforcement commands became more heated with profanity shouted for Brown to stop the car. Brown ignored the officer’s commands and backed his car until he was blocked by the rear of his residence. Brown then put the car in drive and turned the steering wheel left, directly at law enforcement officers who had now surrounded his vehicle. Despite this tense situation and the aggressive driving by Mr. Brown, no law enforcement officer fired a shot. As Brown’s car starts forward, Deputy Lunsford was now positioned directly in front of the vehicle and all officers were shouting commands to stop. Brown ignored the commands and drove directly at Deputy Lunsford. Deputy Lunsford used his left hand to push off of the hood. It was at this moment that the first shot is fired. Deputy Lunsford then spun out of the way to avoid being run over by Brown’s vehicle.

While the deputies were trying to serve arrest warrants and carry out a drug-related search, Womble also revealed that Brown had sold drugs to an undercover officer. The deputies were briefed on Brown’s history of resisting arrest and charges of assault, assault with a deadly weapon and assault causing serious injury convictions dating back to 1995.

The use of lethal force was tied to the use of the car to strike officers. When one deputy tried to open Brown’s door, Brown threw the car into reverse. The officer ended up on the hood of the car. Then Brown drove the car forward and directly at the officer.  The deputy pushed off the car to avoid being run over.  The car came into contact with a second officer.

The first shot went through the windshield followed by shots through the side windows. Shots then were fired from behind as the car speeded directly toward an officer in a car.

As I discussed earlier, reports of such contacts could be treated as the use of a car as a lethal weapon. Courts have ruled that a car that makes contact with officers is a basis for the justified use of lethal force. See, e.g., In Thomas v. Durastanti, 607 F.3d 655 (10th Cir. 2010) and Jenkins v. Bartlett, 487 F.3d 482 (7th Cir. 2007).

Womble followed such cases in declaring

“I find that the facts of this case clearly illustrate the officers who used deadly force on Andrew Brown Jr. did so reasonably and only when a violent felon used a deadly weapon to put their lives in danger. Brown’s actions and conduct were indeed dangerous by the time of the shooting… Brown posed an immediate threat to the safety of the officers and others.”

There is still no written report but the finding may push the family ahead with a civil lawsuit. However, the videotape offers a defense for the officers and the city.

26 thoughts on “Justified Shooting: North Carolina District Attorney Announces That No Charges Against Officers In Brown Case”

  1. The slow motion video I saw show the officers were next to the side of the car with one officers hand on the car but not in front of the car. By the sound of the shots, it looks like it happened after the car passes the officers. I would think any reasonable person would conclude that the officers were not in any danger. However, he could be a danger to others by driving erratically. It seem that the officers could have blocked his car or have it towed so he wouldn’t have a car.

  2. The Family should be shown the video…the full video…un-edited video in private…and simultaneously it be shown to the Public and Media….that respects the need for the family to have privacy while they deal with what is surely an emotional event but at the same time grants FULL transparency and damn sure puts a big zipper on the Race Baiters and Ambulance Chasing Lawyers as they would have to tell the truth…well mostly the truth….as everyone watching the video knows what is in or not in the video.

    The only thing I saw wrong with the situation shown in the video was how the approach to the vehicle was done…..as there was no “chase” vehicle following the SWAT Team Pickup Truck.

    Had there been “Cut Off”. vehicles….the Officers could have stepped aside earlier and one or both of the Cut Off Vehicles could have blocked the Felon’s escape by vehicle.

    I wonder how soon before the Raid was there a Last Minute Surveillance of the location had been done to assess the actual situation just prior to the approach of the SWAT Team.

    That would have prevented what did happen….but not have guaranteed there would not have been any exchange of gunfire if the fleeing Felon with a known history of violent resisting had produced a firearm.
    |
    The Key Point in all this is once again the Media knowingly lied or made statements quoting Crump and the Race Baiters without confirming the accuracy of what it was publishing….and caused harm to the Citizens and Family of ALL involved.

  3. It occurs to me that the violent death rate among blacks now is much higher than it was in the Old South under slavery.

    Here is a woman who was killed at a vigil for another person who was killed:

    https://www.weaselzippers.us/469419-nyc-woman-fatally-shot-while-at-vigil-for-man-shot-24-hours-earlier/

    That happens a lot at ‘vigils’ and marches for non-violence and that sort of thing.

    The police are responsible for only a tiny fraction of blacks who have been shot. You are safer picking pockets in front of a police station than going to one of these vigils or ‘end the violence’ demonstrations.

  4. Occasionally, a police officer makes a mistake or dishonors the profession, just as at times happens with doctors and judges. These are human beings.

    Ensuring that allegations are thoroughly investigated is a good thing, but it has to be just. Constantly improving training and policies are a good thing.

    But when the anti-police activists seemingly only concerns itself with alleged black victims, when they constantly allege racism based on nothing other than the color of those involved, and when most of the alleged victims were in the act of fighting with police, drawing a weapon, grabbing for a weapon, or plowing their car through police, then it’s clear their motivation is to support criminal behavior rather than to improve policing.

    How many times must the media report a story wrong, only for the facts to paint a different picture, before the general public will learn to wait for all the facts before screaming about police brutality?

    You go wrestle with suspects trying to kill you before you armchair quarterback the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep the community safe.

    Stop pretending prejudice against cops in general, and white cops in particular is some kind of virtue.

    It’s racist bigotry.

    1. And to pervasively effect the appropriate behavior and a material and substantial attitude adjustment in the community, America should implement the “manifest tenor” of the Constitution and terminate, with extreme prejudice, the entire welfare state comprised of unconstitutional affirmative action, quotas, welfare, food stamps, rent control, social services, forced busing, minimum wage, utility subsidies, WIC, TANF, SNAP, HAMP, HARP, TARP, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Labor, Energy, Obamacare, Social Security, Social Security Disability, Social Security Supplemental Income, Medicare, Medicaid, “Fair Housing” laws, “Non-Discrimination” laws, etc. There is nothing quite like an actually level playing field to promote merit and beget the proper deference and degree of respect.

  5. Turley… you need to get a better proof reader.
    For a legal blog… too many spelling and grammatical mistakes…

    That said… Crump is looking for his payday.
    He’ll file a lawsuit but if I were the city… I’d fight it.

    1. Agree 100%. Turley, you cannot continue with amateurish writing, full of mistakes in spelling and grammar, and occasionally other errors. How can you claim any high ground with high school level punctuation, grammar and spelling? I would give you an F in law school. Shape up.

      1. Pathetic and stupid. What do you mean he “cannot continue?” He has always written this way and always will. The guy works about 15 hours a day; he is one of the most brilliant legal minds living or dead.. Those that are not new here are used to it and accept it. Get over yourself. Start you own stupid legal blog and see if anyone cares to read it.

      2. Why is it that those who kvetch about Turley’s proofreading errors (which I consider part of his charm) always make the most rudimentary writing mistakes?

        “How can you claim any high ground with high school level punctuation, grammar and spelling?”

        My 9th graders would’ve caught that unclear formulation.

        “. . . grammar and spelling?”

        Unless you intend “grammar and spelling” to be a single unit, you need a comma after “grammar.”

    2. I can only imagine that the documents for submission generated by the good offices of the impeccable Benjamin Lloyd Crump, Esq., are, without variance, bereft of typographical, grammatical or any other type or fashion of aberration and anomaly, not to mention de facto errors in thesis or work.

  6. There’s a pattern of resisting arrest and fleeing from the cops among black men, but the lefty SJWs don’t want to admit that people who follow this pattern are going to get hurt, maybe killed. The entire CRT ideology is built around a victim hero who is never wrong, no matter what his criminal past may be. According to CRT ideologues, black men are victims. Period. They are not accountable for their actions; they have no agency. This is the condescending, racist tripe being pushed by liberals and accepted by a small part of the black public. Let’s hope that the majority see through it, and that it will soon die a lonely and ignominious death.

  7. I don’t care whether or not he was “just trying to escape” when he hit the officers or if that was his intent. Even if he did not hit an officer, deadly force is still warranted so as to protect the public from a dangerous fleeing felon at the wheel of a vehicle speeding through the streets in a panic, running stop signs and lights. It’s A disaster waiting to happened to an innocent person or persons.

  8. I am delighted when white, upper middle class liberals (am being redundant) discover that the career criminals they love to gush over do not reciprocate their affection. In a “real world” personal encounter, white liberals sadly discover that their “good white” card is of little use and St. George of Minneapolis could care less that they support BLM.

    antonio

  9. Wait until BLM and the Brave Masked Wonderful Warriors of Antifa ™ “peacefully protest” and watch the DA “discover” new evidence resulting in a submission to the grand jury.

    antonio

    1. This is why the families should not be given access to the video before the general public. Invariably they see the video in a private showing, come out and declare it to be an execution.
      This narrative stands unchallenged for days until the footage is finally released. The public then interpret what they see with the bias they got from the false narrative.
      End family private screenings.

  10. The hostility toward the police in and out government seems to encourage some young black men, and a few women, to believe that aggression toward the police will be tolerated and sometimes rewarded.

    “Are you feeling lucky punk?”

    Now they often do feel lucky because of our corrupt media and leftists in government.

    Turns out that they aren’t always lucky. That spilled blood is on the hands of media, activists and some in government.

  11. Based upon the tape, the District Attorney’s decision was the correct one. I also see no basis for a civil rights or tort action in this instance.

  12. As far as I can tell, when the Brown family and their attorney came out from seeing the video they stared straight in the face of the American people and lied through their teeth trying to drum up support for their anti-police hate.

      1. Yup. That was about a payout and nothing else. The more disputable thing to me is that daughters and sons are so easily fungible when $$$ enter the situation.

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