Andrew Brown Jr., the 42-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by sheriff’s deputies, was laid to rest on Monday in Elizabeth City. In the wake of Brown Jr.’s funeral, the Family and community members are continuing their demands for justice and transparency.
Last Wednesday, a state judge ruled that Brown Jr.’s family were allowed to see body camera footage of the shooting — yet the footage was heavily redacted. The judge also ruled that the videos would not be made public for at least 30 days which has raised questions surrounding lack of transparency.
The calls raised by Brown’s family and the Elizabeth City community puts the 2016 body camera law signed by then-Gov. Pat McCrory into question. Under the law, only a judge can release body camera video to the public and allows very broad discretion for a judge to delay or block disclosure — as seen in the case for the shooting of Brown Jr.
Recently, Democratic lawmakers have proposed changes as to how body cam footage release should be handled in our state among other criminal justice reforms. With bills in both the House and Senate proposing law enforcement agencies to release body camera recordings within 48 hours and require the use of body-worn and dash cameras in all interactions with members of the public, along with other measures.
On a federal level, House Democrats recently passed a sweeping police bill designed to address racial discrimination and excessive use of force, yet there is little Republican support in the Senate — essentially putting the bill limbo. Despite the pause, 30 states have passed more than 140 new police oversight and reform laws that have created guidance for police accountability.
North Carolina has the opportunity to join neighboring states in adopting adequate and equitable criminal justice reform — with North Carolina’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice recommendations and the long list of recently proposed bills, there is a roadmap to providing accountability, transparency and investments in safe and inclusive communities for every North Carolinian.
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