Andrew Brown Jr.'s loved ones on Monday called him a friendly man, eager to be everyone's "best friend," as they continued questioning the deadly force used by North Carolina sheriff's deputies.
The Rev. Al Sharpton bemoaned why he was delivering another eulogy for a Black man, killed during a confrontation with law enforcement.
“We are going to celebrate him but we are not going to excuse that we shouldn’t have to be here to do this. So don’t confuse the celebration with the determination to get justice in this matter,” Sharpton, who is also an MSNBC host, told mourners at the Fountain of Life Church, just three miles away from where Brown was killed in Elizabeth City on April 21.
“This in Elizabeth City is disgraceful and shameful."
Pasquotank County sheriff's deputies sought to serve a warrant for Brown's arrest on felony drug charges two weeks ago Wednesday when three of the lawmen opened fire, officials said.
"Andrew Brown Jr., if he did wrong bring him to court," Sharpton said, standing on a stage over Brown's rose-draped casket. "But you don’t have a right to bring him to his funeral."
Brown's oldest son, Khalil Ferebee, said he appreciates the outpouring of support the family has received.
"It's terrible the way we have to meet together like this," he said. "But seeing everybody, I’m glad we’re together like this right now."
Another son, Jha'rod Ferebee, called Brown his "best friend."
"Me and my dad, he was my best friend," the younger son said. "Every time you seen him you seen me. You seen me, you seen him. We couldn't stay away from each other."
Brown's cousin, Elton Ferebee, recalled how two months ago how he was shamed by his girlfriend into getting a pedicure — before Brown came to his comedic defense.
After posting about the experience on social media, Ferebee said: “You know who the first person was, Andrew hit me up, sent me pictures, hey (cousin) I’m getting my feet done too!"
The investigation into Brown's death is ongoing.
The family commissioned a forensic pathologist, Dr. Brent Hall, who found that Brown was shot four times in the right arm and once squarely in the back of his head.
The shot to the head was fired from "intermediate" range and penetrated Brown's skull and brain, according to Hall, who is based in Boone, North Carolina. The bullet wound had a trajectory of "bottom to top, left to right and back to front," Hall's report said.
A state death certificate showed that Brown died from a "penetrating gunshot wound of the head."
Khalil Ferebee, Brown's son, said the findings showed that his father posed no threat to deputies, making deadly force unnecessary.
"Those gunshots to the arm, that weren't enough? That weren't enough?" he said. "It's obvious he was trying to get away. It's obvious, and they're going to shoot him in the back of the head? That s--- not right. That's not right at all, man."
A judge last week rejected bids to have body camera footage of deputies shooting Brown released to the public, while stipulating the man's family would be allowed to view it.
Superior Court Judge Jeff Foster said turning over footage to news media could affect a potential trial of law enforcement officers who opened fire on Brown. He also said he'd revisit the issue in 30 to 45 days once investigations of the incident are completed.
“Shell game! Trying to make us guess, tape here, tape there, come now come later," Sharpton said. “I know a con game when I see it! Release the whole tape and let the folks see what happened to Andrew Brown.”
In many states, law enforcement footage, such as video shot from the dashboard of police cars or officers' body cameras, is considered a public record, creating a defined, simple path for that to be publicly released.
But that's not the case in North Carolina, which requires a judge's order to allow such footage to be released.
District Attorney Andrew Womble opposed immediate release of the video, supporting just a private showing to Brown's family, arguing that public release would impede his ability to fairly investigate whether the sheriff's deputies were justified in using deadly force.
During the hearing on potential release of police video, Womble said Brown’s car can be seen in footage moving backward and then forward, each time making contact with officers.
“As it backs up it does make contact with law enforcement officers,” Womble said. “At this point, the car is stationary. There is no movement and officers are positioned around the car. The next movement of the car is forward, it is in the direction of law enforcement and makes contact with law enforcement. It is then and only then that you hear shots.”
At the funeral on Monday, family attorney Ben Crump said he believes the tapes will show that Brown was needlessly shot.
“Even Stevie Wonder ... could see what these videos are going to show," Crump told mourners. "We know that it was a reckless, unjustifiable shooting."