Andrew Brown Jr. funeral: Family of black man killed by cops arrive for service as Rev. Al Sharpton set to give eulogy
ANDREW Brown's family, friends, and mourners arrived for his funeral, less than two weeks after he was shot dead by cops.
Social justice activist Rev Al Sharpton will give the eulogy for Brown, 42, on Monday, who was shot and killed by police in North Carolina on April 21 in his driveway.
- Read our Andrew Brown Jr. live blog for the latest updates
Deputies had been serving drug-related search and arrest warrants at the time of the shooting, which prompted a wave of protests in Elizabeth City as community members demand the bodycam footage of his death is released.
Cries of "release the tapes!" could be heard on the streets of Elizabeth City this past weekend in the days leading up to the memorial service this afternoon, which was reportedly attended by around 150 people.
Brown's grief-stricken family began arriving shortly before 12pm ET and his casket could be seen arriving at the Fountain of Life Church in a horse-drawn carriage.
As his loved ones filed into the church, a plane with a banner flew overhead with the message: "Andrew Brown Jr never forgotten" before the funeral, which is reportedly expected to last four hours.
The funeral comes as:
- Three deputies remain on administrative leave
- Lawyers claim Brown hit cops with his car
- Calls mount of police to release the bodycam footage despite ruling
- Brown's death described as an 'execution' by his family
- Relatives outraged after viewing 20-seconds of the video
"As we lead the casket to the [horse-drawn] carriage I’m standing in prayer and faith with the family of Andrew Brown, Jr," Sharpton tweeted minutes before the service got underway with a small choir and psalms.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented George Floyd's family after his police custody death at the hands of disgraced ex-officer Derek Chauvin, was also in attendance.
During his address, Crump praised his co-counsels who are representing the family of Brown in what he termed the "plea for justice."
"It was literally hours after the landmark historic verdict in the Derek Chuavin trial regarding the unjustified killing of George Floyd…and his sister and brother are here," Crump said.
"The video is going to have to come out because as we stand in the house of God we know that a lie cannot live forever," Crump added, noting that Daunte Wrights family was in attendance.
"Andrew was killed unjustifiably," he added, as he demanded the bodycam video of his death is released. "Because Andrew cannot make the plea for justice it is up to is us."
"We going to stand our ground for Andrew Brown," he concluded, before attorneys, Harry Daniels and Bakari Sellers spoke.
"To many, this is another black body – but to us, it's a brother, father, nephew," Sellers said. "We're tired of the cycle of grief that comes with being black in America."
"The systems in this country have to be torn down," he added. "We're going to stand up for Andrew Brown…for his memory…because we want to be free."
Crump then introduced Brown's two sons and their aunt, Sandra White, who addressed the congregation just before 1pm ET.
"We're going to stand strong for him because I [did] know him [to be] a very good person," she said, recalling how Brown wanted to rent a house for his children. "We'll carry on the fight for justice."
Following White's address, Brown's son Khalil Ferebee spoke and noted that their family intended to "do what he would have wanted us to do in life," while his youngest son, Jarod, described his "pops" as his "best friend."
Before the funeral, a procession began at Waterfront Park at 10:45am and Brown's loved ones followed the carriage to the church, where Sharpton will soon head up the tributes after recently giving Daunte Wright's eulogy.
The invite-only funeral comes after two viewings on Sunday night, which included a public service at the Museum of the Albemarle, while his grieving family also joined a march in Brown's name.
“I would want to get across that this is a human being. And for us, it’s part of a continual abuse of police power,” Sharpton told the Associated Press beforehand.
Rev William J. Barber II, who is also going to address attendees, told MSNBC that "we are in mourning but we are also in a movement" ahead of the service.
The Elizabeth City mayor has imposed a nightly curfew and declared a state of emergency, while the sheriff has pleaded with people to remain peaceful on the streets and delays are expected.
Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten said in a statement Sunday asked everyone to "respect the hardworking families in Pasquotank County who run small businesses and employ so many in our community."
"We hope protests this weekend are peaceful; however, we are prepared to ensure the safety of our community in the event of unlawful disruptions," Wooten said.
"We all want answers about the death of Andrew Brown Jr. However, we must wait for the investigations to be completed so we have the facts."
Four out of the seven deputies involved in the deadly warrant-serving confrontation with Brown Jr are back on active duty and were named as Lt Steve Judd, Sgt Michael Swindell, Sgt Kendall Bishop, and Sgt Joel Lunsford.
Investigator Daniel Meads, Deputy Sheriff II Robert Morgan, and Corp Aaron Lewellyn, who did fire, will remain on leave until the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation completes its work.
However, a judge ruled that the footage will not be released to the public for at least 30 to 45 days while an investigation is underway.
Attorneys for the Brown family said they were "deeply disappointed" by the decision" adding that "video evidence is the key to discerning the truth."
After his death, protests erupted in the wake of Chauvin's conviction for the murder of George last year and the FBI confirmed that Brown's police shooting death will be investigated.
Meanwhile, here’s also been mounting questions as to why a judge refused to release the bodycam footage of the deadly confrontation.
Wooten stated he was “disappointed” the footage wouldn’t be released to the public but noted: “Obviously, I’ll respect the judge’s ruling.”
Brown's family called his death an "execution" after authorities showed them 20-seconds worth of bodycam footage from the incident.
An independent autopsy was performed on April 25 by a pathologist hired by his family which suggested the 42-year-old was hit five times by deputies’ slugs.
He was hit four times in the arm, and once — in what civil rights attorney Ben Crump called the alleged fatal "kill shot" — to the head.
Elizabeth City District Attorney Andrew Womble characterized sheriff’s deputies trying to encircle Brown's car, according to Reuters.
The prosecutor said Brown allegedly tried reversing multiple times when one deputy attempted to open a car door as fellow officers commanded Brown to stay put.
Womble contended that deputies turned to lethal force when Brown allegedly rolled his car forward and made "contact" with them, Reuters reported.
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