Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten II says the seven are on leave after the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. on Wednesday. Three other deputies' resignations were not related to the incident.



Nearly one-fifth of the sheriff's office in Pasquotank County, N.C., has been placed on leave or has resigned after a Black man was fatally shot this week while deputies were carrying out a warrant. Authorities have released few details about the shooting that killed Andrew Brown Jr., and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is looking into it.

NPR's Sarah McCammon joins us now from Elizabeth City in Pasquotank County, where protesters have been taking to the streets to demand answers and the release of body camera footage. Sarah, thanks for being with us.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott.

SIMON: Do we know why the deputies have been put on leave or resigned?

MCCAMMON: We're not getting a lot of details so far. We learned late yesterday that seven sheriff's deputies are on paid administrative leave here in Pasquotank County, N.C. Three more deputies have resigned. But the sheriff's office says those resignations are not related to the shooting on Wednesday that killed Andrew Brown Jr. We're told that one of those was a retirement. But officials aren't saying much more. They keep highlighting that the investigation into the matter is proceeding.

Also yesterday afternoon, Sheriff Tommy Wooten, who is white, hosted a Facebook Live event from a predominantly Black church, where he was surrounded by mostly Black religious and civic leaders. And he promised transparency but offered no new details.


TOMMY WOOTEN: I can assure the public if any of my deputies - I've said this before. I'll say it again. If any of my deputies broke any laws or violated policies that come out through this investigation, they will be held accountable.

MCCAMMON: Now, Wooten took no questions from the public during that event and said nothing about the departures of those deputies. His office did later confirm what local media had been reporting - that seven deputies are on leave. So with those seven, plus the three resignations we just talked about, that's 10 Pasquotank County sheriff's deputies at least temporarily stepping away from a department that only has 55 full-time deputies.

SIMON: Sarah, you've been reporting from Elizabeth City this week. What's it like there?

MCCAMMON: Well, this comes the same week as the conviction of former police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. But there's a real sadness and frustration here, especially among the city's Black residents. There have been protests in the streets each day and many calls for more police accountability and more information. Daniel Bowser's (ph) 44, close to Andrew Brown Jr.'s age. And he came out to march through the streets of Elizabeth City last night.

DANIEL BOWSER: I want justice for Drew. And I want the tape - the footage to come out. We're not going to stop until justice comes.

SIMON: Sarah, what do you hear about the shooting and the investigation?

MCCAMMON: A lot of the details are going to depend on that body cam footage that has yet to be released. City council members are calling for it. The governor, Roy Cooper, is calling for the footage to be released as soon as possible. Sheriff Tommy Wooten's office says the footage can only be released by a court order, and city council members say they're prepared to ask a court to force that.

SIMON: NPR's Sarah McCammon in Elizabeth City, N.C. Sarah, thanks so much.

MCCAMMON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.