Police bodycam and dashcam footage from the fatal shooting of African American Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte on Tuesday has been released to the public amid an ongoing investigation.
*WARNING: GRAPHIC FOOTAGE*
Dashcam footage shows Scott coming out of his car and walking backwards away from it until he is shot. It is unclear from the footage whether Scott is holding a gun in his hand.
The bodycam video filmed by a uniformed officer was muted for about 25 seconds, and no altercations or shots can be heard in that time. Scott is only visible in several fuzzy frames, with the head of an officer covering most of the view. Afterwards, he is already lying on the ground, bleeding.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) has also released a detailed statement providing a police account of Scott’s shooting.
The statement described two plainclothes officers taking part in an unrelated operation and seeing Scott pull up next to them. The two said they saw him rolling a marijuana joint. Then, one of the officers noticed that Scott held “a gun up.” This prompted the officers to leave the area, change into police uniform, and then “take enforcement action for public safety concerns.”
— Joe Bruno (@JoeBrunoWSOC9) September 24, 2016
An extra police officer joined the two who arrived in a patrol car, the release added.
The statement professed to justify the shots fired by Scott “refusing” to follow “clear, loud and repeated verbal commands to drop the gun.”
“Officer Vinson perceived Mr. Scott’s actions and movements as an imminent physical threat to himself and the other officers,”it said.
The statement added that the gun was “loaded” and was found to contain Scott’s DNA and fingerprints. CMPD released photos of the gun, Scott’s ankle holster and a “marijuana blunt” to accompany the document.
— Molly Grantham WBTV (@MollyGrantham) September 24, 2016
Keith Scott’s family reacted to the video by saying the shooting still “did not make sense” to them as Scott had not shown any signs of aggressive behavior, Reuters reported. They added it did not answer “key questions” which remained about the shooting.
Scott’s family lawyer, Justin Bamberg, said that in the footage Scott “doesn’t appear to be acting aggressively to the officers on the scene.”
Scott’s brother-in-law, Ray Dotch, also remained unconvinced. “Unfortunately we are left with far more questions than we have answers,” he said, adding that Scott “was an American citizen who deserved better” and called on media not to speculate about the personality of the deceased.
Social media users embarked upon a mission to examine fragments of the footage immediately upon its release. While the majority did not seem to support the police’s side of story and could not identify a gun held by Scott, some pointed out that a gun holster, which was possibly empty, could be seen around his ankle.
Prior to releasing the clips, Charlotte police deleted all tweets concerning the upcoming footage. They later explained it had been made by an employee “uncomfortable with the decision to live tweet” the police briefing, adding that the removal“should not have happened.”
The CMPD chief, Kerr Putney, earlier green-lighted the release saying it will not hamper the ongoing investigation into the incident.
— CMPD News (@CMPD) September 24, 2016
These are tough times for our city and we’re going to get through it,” the police chief said, adding that physical evidence would be released.
“What we are releasing are the objective facts,” he said, calling the shooting “a complex case.”
Putney said that the suspect “absolutely” had a gun in his hands, which triggered the police response.
“Yes, based on the totality of what we see, he absolutely was in possession of a handgun,” the police chief told journalists.
North Carolina. Gov. Pat McCrory backed the police move to release video evidence of the shooting.
“As governor of North Carolina, I concur with the Charlotte police chief`s decision to release the tapes”, he said in a statement, adding that the FBI had told him the release would not compromise the course of the investigation.
“I have been assured by the State Bureau of Investigation that the release will have no material impact on the independent investigation since most of the known witnesses have been interviewed.”
The fatal shooting of the 43-year-old father of seven, Keith Lamont Scott, led to riots in Charlotte, which largely demanded the release of police footage.
Tuesday’s shooting became the latest in a series of deadly incidents involving police and African Americans in the US in recent years.