Andrew Brown has been buried, but we still have questions about his death. Most of us don’t understand the circumstances surrounding his killing, and the details are still being withheld. The answers get more pressing and the expectation darker each day the law enforcement body camera footage is withheld.

Why won’t the district attorney push for release of the videos? Do they show, as the family says, that Brown was executed? Why are they being edited? If his car “came into contact” with deputies, did his car hit them or did they hit his car?

Who authorized the SWAT team? Who thought that the SWAT team was appropriate? Why did they target a non-violent person?

If the SWAT team was acting on an arrest warrant, why was it not produced immediately? Did the SWAT team have an arrest warrant with them when they went to Andrew Brown’s home?

If the SWAT team was there to serve an arrest warrant, why wasn’t it produced that day, when the crowd and the media had gathered for answers? Why did the cops on site refer only to a search warrant?

Why wasn’t the family allowed to see all the videos in their entirety? Why was only 20 seconds of one edited video shown to family members and one of their attorneys?

Why is the family left twisting in the wind? Why is the public left in the dark? Do our public officials think if they delay long enough there will be no consequences? Do they not realize that every day they stall they look worse?

Why is the victim being portrayed by public officials as a violent person when his record shows clearly that he has never been violent and did not carry a gun? Why was their action so extreme?

Why did the sheriff’s office claim that Mr. Brown had a history of resisting arrest when they know he didn’t? Why do they think they have to blame the victim? Was their action so egregious that it is indefensible?


Do officials not realize that every day they delay being more transparent makes them look more guilty? And that the guiltier they look, the greater our liability?

Why won’t the district attorney allow a special prosecutor to take over the case, as Gov. Roy Cooper suggests?

Why did the county attorney angrily declare that he would not be “f---ing bullied” when it came to showing the Brown family attorneys the video? Why didn’t he join the sheriff and the family and the public in demanding that the videos be released, in the interest of transparency? Does he, a public employee, not believe he is responsible to the public?

Where is the county manager in this? Don’t these public employees realize that their stonewalling is giving our town a black eye? Do they not care how our city is seen across the nation? Do they have no interest in showing our better side to the country? Do these people, all of whom are public employees, think they can stonewall and obfuscate and deny and there will be no consequences?

Isn’t it bad enough that this SWAT team killed someone without our public officials making it worse?

Do these public officials think the poor handling of this tragedy is not going to affect tourism and business in Elizabeth City? Have they not read the reports of hotels and restaurants that people are canceling plans to come to Elizabeth City? How much business is going to be lost because of this travesty?

Why have media representatives covering this tragedy been blocked from parking in public lots close to the courthouse, where they need to unload their equipment? Do they think that will discourage negative publicity?

What are they afraid of? What are they hiding?

Martha Johnson is a resident of Elizabeth City.