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A North Carolina sheriff on Thursday released the names of seven deputies placed on administrative leave following the police shooting death of Andrew Brown Jr. last week and reinstated four of them.
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten said three of the deputies fired their weapons — investigator Daniel Meads, deputy Robert Morgan, and corporal Aaron Lewellyn — and remain on leave as part of the ongoing investigation, Wooten said.
“More investigation is necessary into the three deputies who did fire their weapons and they will remain on administrative leave pending completion of the internal investigation and/or the criminal investigation being conducted by the State Bureau of Investigation,” the sheriff added.
The others — Lt. Steven Judd, Sgt. Michael Swindell, Sgt. Kenneth Bishop, and Sgt. Joel Lunsford — were determined to not have opened fire on Brown and had their duties reinstated, Wooten said.
All four are all veterans of the office.
“After reviewing the preliminary conclusions of the independent investigators and conducting the internal review, and after carefully examining the body camera footage of the incident with my own staff, it’s obvious that four of the deputies never fired their weapons and deserved to be reinstated to active duty,” Wooten told WAVY-TV.
Brown was shot and killed April 21 while the deputies were executing a drug warrant at his home in Elizabeth City — and was shot as he drove away from the officers.
Brown’s family called the shooting “an execution” after being allowed to view a 20-second clip of one deputy’s bodycam video.
But a local judge on Wednesday refused to make the footage public for 30 to 40 days — and said Brown’s family may soon view the video but not obtain copies.
Despite calls for prosecutors to delay the release, Wooten has argued for the bodycam footage to be made public to ensure transparency.
“Some people want to rush to judgment and others want to pit people against each other in a way that can only hurt our county,” he told WAVY. “My job is to ensure transparency and accountability, while also preserving the ability for the independent investigators to do their deliberate, painstaking, and vital work.”
Wooten said three other members of the sheriff’s office resigned after Brown’s death but has not said if those decisions were tied to the shooting.
Deputy Sheriff William Harris and Lt. Christopher Terry, both with the office since 2009, announced their resignations. Deputy James Flowers, a 21-year veteran of the force, retired.
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