The Rev. Al Sharpton delivered a fiery eulogy at the funeral of Andrew Brown Jr. in Elizabeth City, N.C., on Monday, and called on police to release the body camera footage of his death.
Sharpton accused officials of subterfuge in refusing to release full videos of the shooting.
“I know a con game when I see it,” Sharpton said. “Release the whole tape and let the public see what happened to Andrew Brown.”
Brown, 42, died after police deputies shot him as they were attempting to execute a drug-related search warrant.
Last week, a North Carolina judge ruled against the public release of the footage for 30 to 45 days so that authorities can complete an investigation into Brown’s death.
Superior Court Judge Jeff Foster denied requests to immediately release police body camera and dashboard video of the shooting. Foster granted release of the footage to Brown’s son, Khalil Ferebee, but ordered that any identifying information, including faces and badge numbers, be blurred or removed.
Pasquotank District Attorney Andrew Womble had argued that the video’s release would improperly influence potential witnesses or jurors.
Sharpton took issue with that argument.
“How is a tape going to prejudice a grand jury when a grand jury’s got to see the tape in order to decide whether or not they’re going to prosecute?” Sharpton asked during his eulogy. “Don’t talk to us like we’re stupid.”
“If there’s nothing on the tape, there won’t be nothing on the tape in 45 days, and if there’s something on it in 45 days, there’s something on it today,” he continued. “You don’t need time to get a tape out — put it out! Let the world see!”
Sharpton added: “If you’ve got nothing to hide, then what are you hiding?”
There have been mounting calls for the public release of the footage. Under North Carolina law, release of body camera video must be ordered by a judge.
Brown's family, which was allowed to view a portion of the footage, said Brown had both hands on his steering wheel when police fired at him. An independent autopsy ordered by the family showed Brown was shot five times, including once to the back of the head.
The shooting came one day after former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted in the murder of George Floyd, whose killing sparked global protests against police brutality.
“We could barely celebrate,” Ben Crump, an attorney for both the Floyd and Brown families, said at Monday’s funeral.
“It is up to us to make the plea for transparency and demand that these videotapes be released,” Crump added.
Brown’s sons, Gerard and Khalil Ferebee, spoke prior to Sharpton at the service, which was held at the Fountain of Life Church in front of about 200 friends and family members.
“He would've loved this. I just wish he was here with us,” Khalil Ferebee said, standing before Brown’s rose-covered casket. “I love you pops.”
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