Investigation kicks off after a North Carolina deputy shoots dead Andrew Brown, the father of 10, in Elizabeth City, sparking protests and demands of law enforcement accountability.

Deshawn Morris speaks to fellow residents near the scene of a shooting of Andrew Brown in Elizabeth City on April 21, 2021.
Deshawn Morris speaks to fellow residents near the scene of a shooting of Andrew Brown in Elizabeth City on April 21, 2021. (AP)

An African-American father of 10 has been shot dead by police during an investigation in North Carolina, local authorities said amid a surge in concern over law enforcement shootings.

Pasquotank County Sheriff Tommy Wooten said on Wednesday that one of his deputies fatally shot Andrew Brown in Elizabeth City near the Atlantic coast while a warrant against Brown was being exercised.

"It's been a tragic day," Wooten told reporters.

According to local television channel WAVY, citing witnesses, Brown was shot while attempting to flee police in his car.

Brown was 40 and the father of 10, the station said.

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Investigation over shooting under way 

Wooten pledged transparency in the investigation. He said they had yet to analyse footage from body cameras worn by the police officers involved.

He said the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation would handle the case.

It came a day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder for killing George Floyd, a Black man whose death last year spurred outrage across the country.

Less than an hour before that verdict came in, police in Ohio fatally shot a Black teenager who appeared to be lunging at another person with a knife.

The high number of African-Americans killed by police has sparked calls for broad reforms in policing.

READ MORE: US probes death of Black teenage girl in Ohio police shooting

Dozens protest Black man's death 

The incident spurred an outcry from a crowd of dozens that immediately gathered at the scene and demanded law enforcement accountability.

Among the roughly 100 people who gathered at the scene of the shooting was Keith Rivers, president of the Pasquotank County chapter of the NAACP, who criticised the sheriff’s office for taking hours to release details.

"When is it going to stop? We just got a verdict yesterday," Rivers said in a phone interview, referring to the guilty verdicts handed down Tuesday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Chauvin in the death of Floyd. 

"Is it open season now? At some point, it has to stop. We have to start holding the people in charge accountable."

Brown's grandmother, Lydia Brown, and his aunt, Clarissa Brown Gibson, told The Associated Press that they learned about his death through a TV news report. Both said they want the shooting thoroughly investigated.

"I am very upset. Andrew was a good person," Lydia Brown said. The deputy "didn’t have to shoot him like that."

Clarissa Brown Gibson said: "We want to know if he was served with a warrant, why the shooting over a warrant?"

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No 'rush to judgment'

The State Bureau of Investigation will turn the findings of its review over to District Attorney Andrew Womble, who pledged a thorough and deliberate inquiry.

"What we are looking for at this time will be accurate answers and not fast answers," Womble told the news conference. 

"We’re going to wait for the full and complete investigation ... and we'll review that and make any determinations that we deem appropriate at that time. This will not be a rush to judgment."

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Source: AFP