The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has released police-video footage taken with a dash-cam and a body-cam that recorded the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old black man, by police in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday. That shooting death has led to sometimes violent protests and a declaration of a state of emergency in Charlotte by North Carolina’s governor. One of the primary requests from activists, and Scott’s relatives, has been that the police release all available information pertaining to the case, and especially the videos — something authorities had refused to do up until Saturday.
The new footage does not definitively show Scott with a gun in his hand, nor does it show him raising such a weapon, or acting in a threatening manner toward police. Though, Charlotte police maintain that, despite it not being visible in the footage, Scott did indeed have a small handgun, and that Scott’s refusal to drop the weapon resulted in the justified use of lethal force. The plainclothes officers, including the one who shot and killed Scott, were not wearing body cameras, but a uniformed officer that participated in the confrontation was.
Here are the two videos that were released on Saturday compiled together:
The Charlotte Observer reports that Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief Kerr Putney told reporters during a heavily guarded press conference on Saturday that Scott had drawn the attention of plainclothes officers when they noticed him sitting in a parked SUV in possession of both marijuana and a handgun. Putney says that the officers confronted Scott while he was still in the SUV, identified themselves as police, and repeatedly told him to drop the weapon. Officers reported that Scott did not comply with their instructions, and Scott ultimately exited the SUV with the gun and backed away, but did not drop the weapon. Officer Brentley Vinson, who is also black, then fired four shots at Scott, killing him.
Here are the images of the gun police allege that Scott was holding, the marijuana cigarette he was rolling, and the ankle holster he was wearing:
Putney said there was no evidence that Vinson acted inappropriately given the situation, and that witness accounts and forensic evidence from the scene, including Scott’s fingerprints and DNA on the gun and an ankle holster that he was wearing, supported the officers’ accounts of what happened. The release of information on Saturday followed the release of a cell-phone video taken by Scott’s wife. That video did not show the shooting or Scott’s possession a firearm.
A full police account of what happened is below:
The New York Times, after speaking with those in Charlotte who have been protesting Scott’s death, reports that the footage, narrative, and photos are unlikely to satisfy concerns over the case, particularly since, as Chief Putney acknowledged on Saturday, police have not released all evidence pertaining to the case, including all the video footage they have — though Putney said everything would be released eventually.
The disclosure that the officers witnessed Scott in possession of marijuana also raised some eyebrows, since the drug has been decriminalized in many cities. Chief Putney said that officers had originally only noticed the marijuana, but it wasn’t until they allegedly saw the gun, in combination with the marijuana, that they decided to confront Scott.
That authorities released any footage at all was a reversal, since they had previously maintained that doing so would compromise their investigation into the matter, or that releasing only a portion of the evidence, without the full context, could further exacerbate the already tense situation in Charlotte.
Count Scott’s family among those who are not satisfied with the new information or explanation. Per the Washington Post, Scott’s brother-in-law told the media on Saturday night that the videos raise more questions instead of answering them, and that it still “does not make sense to us how this incident resulted in a loss of life.”
Given the new video evidence, there is also the issue of whether or not Scott should have been shot, holding a gun or not, while he was slowly backing away, and without an attempt to deescalate the situation. Said one of the Scott family attorneys on Saturday, “He doesn’t lunge at the officers. It appears he has his hands by his side. The moment he is shot, he is passively stepping back.” In addition, the Scott family still believes he was unarmed at the time of the shooting to begin with.
Protests in Charlotte over Scott’s death are thus likely to continue despite the newly revealed footage and information, and indeed they did for the fifth straight night on Saturday: