RICHMOND, Va. -- Social justice advocates said Tuesday's announcement that a North Carolina District Attorney ruled deputies were justified in their use of force in the fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr., highlighted another problem in the criminal justice system.
"We have to start having conversations about how much power these district attorneys have," said Brandon Randleman, Isle of Wight NAACP Advocacy Advisor.
A portion of the body-camera footage of the North Carolina fatal shooting was shown to the public for the first time Tuesday.
"The shooting of Andrew Brown on April 21st, 2021 was justified to protect the safety and lives of the deputies on the scene," said Andrew Womble, the attorney for North Carolina's first judicial district.
Womble added that the footage showed Brown driving toward officers on the scene.
However, Randleman believes Womble should’ve recused himself.
"Even if the District Attorney and Elizabeth City/Pasquotank County believes that officers' actions were justified -- because he worked so closely with the local law enforcement -- it will always lead to this cloudiness over his decision," Randleman said.
Randleman advocated against this kind of outcome before.
Just days prior, he and other members of the Isle of Wight NAACP were calling for their county Commonwealth Attorney to recuse herself following the Windsor Police high profile traffic stop of Army Lt. Caron Nazario.
"So you have three different states, you have three different outcomes," Randleman said. "In Virginia and Windsor, the local prosecutor has now handed it to a neighboring jurisdiction. In Elizabeth City, the District Attorney decided to keep the case. and in Minneapolis, it went into the hands of the Attorney General."
Randleman believed those kinds of cases should always be handled by an outside agency or by the state attorney general, and Virginia NAACP President Robert Barnette echoed that sentiment.
"That will allow the community a modicum of trust," said Barnette.
Meanwhile, The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director, Dana Schrad, sent the following statement in review of the Andrew Brown Jr. case:
Every use of lethal force by law enforcement calls for a thorough investigation and legal review of the facts. Law enforcement officers’ duty includes the right and responsibility to protect others and themselves from the threat of harm.