North Carolina sheriff’s deputies were justified in their fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr, a Black man, in April, and will not face charges, a district attorney said on Tuesday.
Andrew Womble told reporters Brown Jr’s actions caused deputies to believe it was necessary to use deadly force.
“Brown posed an immediate threat to the safety of officers and others,” he said.
Deputies attempting to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants shot and killed Brown outside his Elizabeth City home on 21 April.
The shooting sparked protests over multiple weeks by demonstrators calling for the public release of body camera footage. While authorities have shown footage to Brown’s family, a judge refused to release the video publicly pending the state investigation.
An independent autopsy released by the family found Brown was hit five times, including once in the back of the head. Lawyers for Brown’s family who watched body camera footage say that it shows Brown was not armed and that he didn’t drive toward deputies or pose a threat to them.
Womble has previously disagreed in court, saying that Brown struck deputies twice with his car before any shots were fired. The sheriff has said his deputies weren’t injured.
Three deputies involved in the shooting remain on leave. Four others who were at the scene were reinstated after the sheriff said they didn’t fire their weapons.
On Tuesday, Womble said Brown ignored deputies’ commands to stop and began to drive his car directly at one of the officers.
He said the first shot fired at Brown’s car went through the front windshield, not the back as previously reported.
The FBI has launched a civil rights investigation of the shooting.