Autopsy Finds Andrew Brown Jr. Died By Gunshot From Behind After DA Calls Killing 'Justified'

Andrew Brown Jr. was killed by a gunshot in the back of the head, the North Carolina state medical examiner has determined.

The autopsy results come less than one month after Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble said the three sheriff's deputies who fired at Brown while attempting to serve an arrest warrant were "justified" in their actions.

"The actions were consistent with the training and fully supported under the law in protecting their lives and this community," the district attorney said. No charges were filed against the deputies.

The state medical examiner listed the cause of death as homicide. They also indicated Brown was also shot in the right arm and suffered lacerations and other wounds to his thigh and upper back. He also had a low level of methamphetamine in his bloodstream, but examiners said it "likely did not play a role" in his death.

The state report confirmed the finding from an independent autopsy requested by the family released days after his death that Brown died as a result of a gunshot wound to the head.

When asked for comment on the state's autopsy, Womble referred Newsweek to a May 18 press release in which he stated that Dr. Karen Kelly, forensic pathologist with the state's medical examiner's office "determined Brown suffered two gunshot wounds; one to his right shoulder/upper arm that was non-lethal and a second wound to the back of the head at the base of the skull near the hairline."

"This is not new evidence and does not change my analysis," Womble added in an email to Newsweek.

Brown, a 42-year-old Black man, was killed on April 21 while officers were executing search and arrest warrants at his home. Authorities said they were serving a warrant for Brown's arrest on felony drug charges.

Autopsy Finds Brown Died By Gunshot Head
A lit candle in a memorial built to honor Andrew Brown Jr. in the area where he was killed on May 01, 2021 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Brown was killed by a gunshot in the back of the head, the North Carolina state medical examiner has determined. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Brown was attempting to drive his car away from the officers when they started firing, Womble said. Asked by a reporter if the officers should have let Brown go and arrested him later, rather than using their firearms, the district attorney said they "simply couldn't let him go."

A total of 14 shots were fired by the three deputies.

"Mr. Brown's death, while tragic, was justified, because Mr. Brown's actions caused three deputies with the Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office to reasonably believe it was necessary to use deadly force to protect themselves and others," Womble said at a news conference on May 18.

Members of Brown's family and their lawyers have called the police shooting an "execution."

In response to the state's autopsy report, attorneys for the family said in a statement Thursday that it shows "what we've always known to be true: Pasquotank County deputies executed Andrew Brown Jr. with a kill shot to the back of the head."

"The false narrative that DA Womble has attempted to weave is completely discredited by this autopsy report," they added.

The attorneys also said they were not informed about the autopsy's results from authorities, instead finding out about its release from the media.

"While we're not surprised by the findings, we are both astounded and disgusted that the authorities, in this case, didn't even have the decency to share these results with the family—we were alerted of their release by the media," their statement said. "Every single opportunity DA Womble has had to do the right thing, he's taken the route of cowardice and deceit. Shame on him."

There is an ongoing civil rights probe being conducted by the FBI into Brown's death. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and others have also called for a special prosecutor to handle the case.

The family's attorneys also said Thursday that the family will continue to push for the full release of body camera footage from the shooting.