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Pasquotank County: DA who called Andrew Brown Jr.'s killing 'justified' is elected to Superior Court

Andrew Brown Jr., a 42-year-old Black man, was shot five times, including once in the back of the head, when Pasquotank County deputies tried to serve drug-related search and arrest warrants at his home April 21. (Kate Medley / WUNC)
Kate Medley
for WUNC
May 2, 2021 file photo of a mural in Elizabeth City, N.C. that pays tribute to Andrew Brown Jr., who was killed by Pasquotank County Sheriff Deputies outside of his home on April 21, 2021.

Andrew Womble — the former District Attorney in Pasquotank County who did not press charges against the sheriff's deputies who killed Andrew Brown in Elizabeth City in 2021 — has won the election for Superior Court Judge in North Carolina’s 1st District.

Womble handily defeated incumbent Democrat Eula Reid, garnering 61.8% of the vote. Womble’s term will be for eight years.

District Attorney Andrew Womble announced the results Tuesday of a North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. Womble said Brown's shooting by three deputies was "tragic" but "justified."
Sarah McCammon
2021 FILE — District Attorney Andrew Womble announcing the results of a North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr.

Reid had served on the court for just more than a year. She was appointed the position in April 2021 by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper after the retirement of former Superior Court Judge J.C. Cole.

Womble recently completed his third term as the chief prosecutor in the 1st District. He ran unopposed in the Republican primary for the Superior Court race.

In Pasquotank County, Womble won by 270 votes. In each of the other six counties in the district, he won by even wider margins. In all, he received about 14,000 more votes than Reid.

In May 2021, Womble characterized Brown’s death as “tragic" but "justified.” The family of the 42-year-old Brown called his death an “execution.” His killing by Pasquotank deputies sparked weeks of unrest in Elizabeth City.

Pasquotank County Sherriff Tommy Wooten — who was the subject of a $30 million wrongful-death lawsuit brought by Brown’s family — was re-elected Tuesday, defeating Democratic challenger Eddie Graham by about 2,400 votes. Wooten received more than 58% of the vote.

It was the second time Graham had challenged Wooten for the sheriff’s office, and Wooten more than doubled his margin of victory from 2018.

Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II speaks at a news conference on April 21, 2021.
Pasquotank County Sheriff's Office, Facebook
via screengrab
FILE — Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II at a news conference in April 2021.

Wooten won six Pasquotank precincts. Graham defeated him in Elizabeth City’s north, south and west precincts, but it wasn’t enough.

After Brown was killed by sheriff’s deputies, Wooten called for the release of their body camera footage to the public, but under North Carolina law, only a court can decide that.

Brown was killed on April 21, 2021 by Pasquotank County sheriff’s deputies who were serving drug-related warrants at his Elizabeth City home. Brown, unarmed, was surrounded by the deputies while in his car. Brown was shot five times and he was killed by a bullet to the back of his head. Womble said that Brown used his car “as a deadly weapon,” but lawyers for the family have disputed that.

In June, the Pasquotank County Sheriff’s Office settled with Brown’s family for $3 million. The settlement was approved by the Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners.

Mitchell Northam is a Digital Producer for WUNC. His past work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SB Nation, the Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and is also a voter in the AP Top 25 poll for women's college basketball.