• After watching, Keith Scott’s family calls for shooting videos to be released

    September 23, 2016

    The grief-stricken family of a Charlotte, N.C., man who died in a police-involved shooting was shown videos of this fateful encounter — and wants them released to the public.

    Keith Lamont Scott’s relatives and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department have painted two very different pictures of what happened leading up to his death on Tuesday. For the family, the videos demonstrate that Scott was not aggressive and posed no threat to the officer who took his life. For police, the videos appear to justify the officer for opening fire.

    Justin Bamberg, the attorney representing Scott’s family, released a statement Thursday saying that the family has “more questions than answers” after watching the videos, captured by police dashboard and body cameras.

    “When told by police to exit his vehicle, Mr. Scott did so in a very calm, non-aggressive manner,” Bamberg wrote. “While police did give him several commands, he did not aggressively approach them or raise his hands at members of law enforcement at any time.”

    According to Bamberg, it is impossible to tell what Scott was holding in his hands — if anything — during the incident.

    “When he was shot and killed, Mr. Scott’s hands were by his side and he was slowly walking backwards,” he continued. “It was incredibly difficult for members of the Scott family to view these videos, but as a matter of the greater good and transparency, the Scott family asks that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department publicly immediately release both of the videos they watched today.”

    Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney at a news conference on Thursday. (Photo: Chuck Burton/AP)
    Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney at a news conference on Thursday. (Photo: Chuck Burton/AP)

    Police Chief Kerr Putney said at a press conference earlier Thursday that he would honor the family’s request to watch the videos. But he said he did not plan to release them to the public because he wants to protect the integrity of the investigation.

    “The video does not give me absolute, definitive visual evidence that would confirm that a person is pointing a gun. I did not see that in the videos that I reviewed,” he said. “So what I can tell you, though, is that when taken in the totality of all the other evidence, it supports what we’ve heard and the version of the truth that we gave about the circumstances that happened that led to the death of Mr. Scott.”

    As the same press conference, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts lamented the two days of violent protests that broke out in the streets over Scott’s death and applauded community leaders who are reaching out to angry demonstrators. She said the safety of Charlotte’s citizens is her administration’s highest priority.

    “It’s been a difficult couple of days for the city of Charlotte. The events that we saw last night are not the Charlotte that I know and love. They are not reflective of our community and the deep-seated traditions we have of collaboration and peace.”

    Scott’s death is the latest in a string of African-American men being shot and killed by law enforcement. A shooting in Tulsa, Okla., also made national headlines this week after videos showed an officer fatally shooting an unarmed black man. The officer was charged with first-degree manslaughter in the incident, a Tulsa County district attorney said Thursday.

    The Black Lives Matter movement and like-minded people have argued that these fatal encounters are symptomatic of systemic police brutality against black men in the U.S.

    Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in the streets of Charlotte for the third straight night since Scott’s death. It was much more peaceful than on the previous nights.

    A protester walks in front of a line of police officers on Thursday, the third night of protests in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo: Chuck Burton/AP)
    A protester walks in front of a line of police officers on Thursday, the third night of protests in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo: Chuck Burton/AP)

    On Friday morning, Roberts said that she thinks the footage should be released but it’s a matter of finding the right time.

    “I do believe the video should be released,” she said. “The question is on the timing.”

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