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In Elizabeth City, 2 narratives compete to define Andrew Brown Jr.

Josh Shaffer and Tyler Dukes, The News & Observer on

Published in News & Features

In Minneapolis, George Floyd was portrayed both as a family man and religious mentor fond of peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and as an ex-convict with fentanyl in his system on the day he died.

Similar narratives now compete to define Andrew Brown Jr.

On the morning of April 21, a street camera captured footage of sheriff’s deputies rolling to Brown’s house in a pickup, wearing tactical gear.

Neighbors reported hearing shots, then running down Perry Street to see Brown tearing across a vacant yard, spraying mud on his house as deputies fired into his fleeing car. A private autopsy showed a “kill shot” to the head, said family attorney Ben Crump. But bodycam and dashboard footage of the shooting have yet to be released, by a judge’s order.

The deputies’ search and arrest warrants said they were acting on a yearlong investigation that had produced evidence of Brown selling drugs multiple times, including methamphetamine and crack cocaine.

For Brown, such attention from law enforcement was nothing new.

 

Living in Debry, he caught his first charge, for trespassing, at age 16. He served his first stint in prison, for felony drug trafficking, at 20. Over the course of his life, Brown would serve 2,169 days in prison, roughly six years. He had been to prison three times before he was 30. Since 1996, hardly a year passed without a criminal conviction — 54 in all, according to court records.

Seven of the convictions were for drug-related felonies — mostly possessing and selling cocaine or marijuana.

All the rest were misdemeanors or traffic offenses — trespassing, gambling, “resisting a public officer,” speeding, driving without insurance.

For those who poured into Elizabeth City streets, and for the hundreds at his funeral, none of that justifies the level of police response to serve a routine warrant.

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