After privately viewing two videos of his killing, the family of Keith Lamont Scott — a man who was fatally shot this week by a police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina — said the footage ought to be released to the public, the New York Times reported.
The family’s attorney, Justin Bamberg, said in a statement that the videos depicted a different account of Scott’s actions from what the police initially offered.
Earlier this week, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said the 43-year-old black man was an armed threat to officers, repeatedly ignoring their demands to drop his weapon as he exited his vehicle. When Scott failed to comply and brandished a gun, that’s when officer Brentley Vinson, who is black, shot and killed Scott, Putney said.
However, Bamberg said the videos showed that Scott exited his vehicle in a “very calm, nonaggressive manner.”
“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,” Bamberg said, adding that “Mr. Scott’s hands were by his side, and he was slowly walking backwards” when the officer shot him.
The police chief has said that detectives did recover a firearm at the scene, “but at this point, I don’t know that [Scott] definitively pointed the weapon specifically towards an officer.”
Video by Associated Press
Despite calls from protesters — and now the family — to release the videos, Putney has said there were no current plans to make them available to the public, adding that the police department will do so when there is a “compelling reason.”
During a news conference Thursday, Putney said state officials have taken over the investigation. He then asked for continued patience with the case.
“A thorough investigation relies on multiple factors, and I can tell you one piece of evidence will never, ever make a good case,” Putney told reporters today. “I know the expectation that video footage can be the panacea, and I can tell you that is not quite the case.”
After violent unrest in Charlotte on Wednesday, Thursday’s nighttime demonstrations over Scott’s death were largely peaceful, with protesters shouting “We want the tapes!” Putney said three people were arrested from last night’s protests.
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Mayor Jennifer Roberts told the NewsHour on Wednesday that city officials wanted “the community to be patient as we put together all the facts. We know there are different versions of the story out there.”
In an op-ed published today, The New York Times’s editorial board said the Charlotte Police Department opted for “stonewalling” in its response to the shooting.
“There is no legal reason to withhold the video from the public, and in this fraught situation, the best way to allay the community’s distrust is complete transparency,” the op-ed read. “Unfortunately, the city’s mayor, Jennifer Roberts, seems largely at sea and distressingly out of touch with how lack of an open governmental response led to demonstrations in places like Ferguson, Mo., Cleveland and Baltimore.”
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