(Reuters) – Protesters planned to boycott businesses on Wednesday after North Carolina’s Pasquotank County chief prosecutor declined to bring charges against the sheriff’s deputies who killed a Black man during an attempted arrest, local media reported.
District Attorney Andrew Womble said on Tuesday deputies were justified in shooting Andrew Brown, 42, outside his Elizabeth City home last month because the officers felt their lives were endangered when he drove his car toward them. Brown was wanted on suspicion of selling illegal drugs.
The killing captured national attention, fueling a debate over the way police use force against Black Americans following the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd in a highly publicized trial.
County Sheriff Tommy Wooten on Tuesday said the three deputies who shot Andrew Brown would remain in their jobs, but would be disciplined and retrained, and their unit would be reconfigured.
Hundreds of protesters marched peacefully through the streets of Brown’s hometown on Tuesday night demanding an outside investigation, and some told WAVY and other local broadcast stations they planned to not spend any money in the county on Wednesday in an economic boycott.
“This was a terrible and tragic outcome, and we could do better,” Wooten said in a video posted on Facebook. Wooten also said he would ask a judge once again to release all of the law enforcement videos now that the district attorney had decided against criminal charges.
In his remarks the sheriff also addressed the Brown family. “This should not have happened this way at all,” he said. “While the deputies did not break the law, we all wish things could have gone differently, much differently.”
Attorneys for the estate of Andrew Brown said they planned to file a federal lawsuit, CNN reported on Wednesday, and that the family was asking the Department of Justice to intervene. The lawyers did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
The FBI said last month it was investigating whether the deputies violated Brown’s civil rights.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement that the federal investigation should continue and criticized how local officials handled the killing.
“Public confidence would have been better served with a special prosecutor and by quickly making public the incidence footage,” he said. “Our state should pass specific laws to increase transparency, confidence and accountability in the justice system.”
(Reporting by Peter Szekely and Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Howard Goller)