Vera Institute of Justice on the Killing of Andrew Brown, Jr.

Last week in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, a Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputy killed Andrew Brown, Jr., during an attempted search and arrest. Although there are still questions surrounding the incident, in part due to unreleased body camera footage, Brown’s story is yet another example of the many tragic interactions between police and communities of color in which the preservation of life was not the priority when it always should be. These incidents of police violence leave lasting damage in the communities where they occur, even in the rare instances in which officers face consequences.

In our ongoing fight for racial and social justice, transparency is needed to establish trust. In North Carolina, only judges can approve a video’s release to the public. That means Brown’s family and attorneys are missing crucial context surrounding the incident that ended his life. Local agencies should have the authority to work collaboratively with community members to revise policies that impact their lives. This includes policies on recordings, like body camera footage. At a time when the public is demanding transparency and information, public institutions ought to be able to honor those needs.

We support those demanding further inquiry into this incident and will continue to condemn police violence and work toward a new model of public safety. Second, it is crucial for the federal government to do everything in its power to uphold the rights of Black and brown communities. The FBI’s decision to launch a federal civil rights investigation into the killing of Andrew Brown Jr. is a step in the right direction.

About the Vera Institute of Justice:

The Vera Institute of Justice is a justice reform change agent. Vera produces ideas, analysis, and research that inspire change in the systems people rely upon for safety and justice. Vera collaborates with the communities most impacted by these systems and works in close partnership with government and civic leaders to implement change. Across projects, Vera is committed to explicitly and effectively reducing the burdens of the justice system on people of color and frames all work with an understanding of our country’s history of racial oppression. Vera is currently pursuing core priorities of ending the misuse of jails, transforming conditions of confinement, providing legal services for immigrants, and ensuring that justice systems more effectively serve America’s increasingly diverse communities. Vera has offices in Brooklyn, NY; Washington, DC; New Orleans, and Los Angeles.