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County commissioner calls for patience as protests continue in Elizabeth City, Raleigh

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A Pasquotank County commissioner called out North Carolina’s political leaders for demanding the release of body-worn camera footage from county deputies that would show how Andrew Brown Jr. died from a gunshot wound.

“Rushing the gathering of evidence and interviewing of witnesses would hurt any future legal case that might be brought in the wake of this tragedy,” said Lloyd Griffin, the chairman of the commissioners. “People including some politicians who want to score political points or become cable news celebrities too often forget that, which could negatively impact the investigation.”

Griffin’s statement came days after both Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein put out statements calling for the immediate release of the video.

In 2017, Stein succeeded Cooper, who had served as the attorney general for 16 years.

The men were joined by fellow Democrats like Sen. Ben Clark and Rep. Graig Meyer, who put out statements of their own asking for the immediate passage of Senate Bill 510, which would require the release of body-worn camera footage within 48 hours of a shooting by an officer.

On Saturday night, Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten said he would petition the courts to release the footage if he could be assured that it would not hinder the ongoing investigations into the shooting.

Griffin’s statement backed Wooten. “The commissioners support Sheriff Wooten, who is trying to maintain public safety in our county while also being responsive to the needs of the Brown family and those concerned about this shooting,” he wrote. “It’s easy to criticize and it’s hard to lead.”

Pasquotank County Commissioners Chairman Lloyd Griffin

Pasquotank County Commissioners Chairman Lloyd Griffin

Protests in Elizabeth City, Raleigh

For the fifth consecutive day, protesters took to the streets of Elizabeth City on Sunday. Among the places where protesters walked were the intersection leading to the Southgate Mall shopping center and past P.W. Moore Elementary School, around the corner from Brown’s home.

And in downtown Raleigh, protesters geared up Sunday evening for a vigil to honor Brown’s life, along with Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old girl, shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio.

Yakob Lemma, a student at Enloe High School, said he couldn’t enjoy the small win of seeing Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin convicted in the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes. He said that small victory was immediately drowned out by four more people killed by officers throughout the United States.

A member of the Wake County Black Student Coalition, Lemma spoke at Sunday’s vigil as a growing crowd of about 100 people gathered at Moore Square, many holding flowers.

Earlier, Lemma said he feels like he should be home doing homework and relaxing but as a Black teen he needed to do something after an emotional and traumatic week.

Lemma said he lost hope.

“I just always have to remember that I have to keep going,” Lemma said. “I can’t just sit here anymore. I can’t just sit here and do nothing.”

Staff writer Adam Wagner contributed.

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