Charlotte shooting: City considers releasing police videos Saturday
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte officials said they are discussing whether to release videos in the police’s fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott as soon as Saturday, a day after his widow released her own cell phone footage.
“We are having those conversations right now,” Sandy D’Elosua, a spokeswoman for the North Carolina city, told CNN’s Nick Valencia on Saturday morning when asked if the police recordings could be released Saturday.
Tuesday’s shooting of Scott, a black man, by a black police officer at an apartment complex parking lot in Charlotte has spurred protests in the city over the past four nights. It is among a number of shootings over the past few years that have spurred debate about how and when police should use deadly force.
The status of videos of Scott’s shooting held by police — body camera and dashboard camera footage — has been a point of contention between police and the family, with authorities declining to release them throughout the week.
Scott’s widow released her cell phone recording of the shooting — the first to be released publicly — on Friday.
“Don’t shoot him. He has no weapon,” Rakeyia Scott can be heard saying in the footage. The first portions of the shaky video appear to show a number of police officers surround a vehicle in a parking lot.
A man repeatedly yells for someone — apparently Keith Scott — to “drop the gun.”
“He doesn’t have a gun. He has a TBI (traumatic brain injury),” Rakeyia Scott says. “He’s not going to do anything to you guys. He just took his medicine.”
She goes on to say: “Keith, don’t let them break the windows; come on out the car. Keith! Don’t do it. Keith, get out the car. Keith! Keith, don’t you do it. Don’t you do it. Keith! Keith! Keith!”
The video shakes, and for a moment, a man in bright blue pants is seen near the surrounded vehicle. Gunshots are heard as Rakeyia Scott says again, “Don’t you do it.”
She then yells: “Did you shoot him? Did you shoot him? He better not be (expletive) dead.” Two people kneel over the figure with blue pants, apparently Keith Scott, now lying on the ground.
Police said an officer shot Scott after he failed to heed commands to drop a gun. His family has said he didn’t have a gun.
The gun police say they recovered from the scene was loaded, a source close to the investigation told CNN. The source said investigators recovered from the weapon fingerprints, blood and DNA that matched with Scott. The source said the blood most likely got on the gun after the shooting.
‘We want the public to take a look at this tape’
An attorney for the Scott family told CNN the tape was released because officials would not furnish the police footage to the public.
“We want the public to take a look at this tape and see what was in the video before he was shot, and what was there afterward, and ask how it got there,” family attorney Eduardo Curry said Friday.
Rakeyia Scott spoke of TBI in the tape, a reference to traumatic brain injury, Curry said. Scott’s family has said he was disabled after being in a near-death motorcycle crash last year.
“My understanding (is) that he had had an accident last year that was pretty traumatic, and as a result, made him at least disabled in some particular instances (and was) taking medication for it,” Curry said.
The Scott family said it released the video in the “name of truth and transparency,” according to a statement released by attorney Charles G. Monnett. “We encourage everyone to reserve judgment until all the facts are known. This is simply one step in our quest to find the truth for this family.”
Police allowed the family to see the police-held footage Thursday, but the public has yet to see it.
On Friday, Charlotte-Mecklenberg police Chief Kerr Putney said he expected police videos of the shooting to be released eventually when investigators decide it can be done as part of a package with other information, so the videos aren’t made public without context.
That stance differed from the chief’s message a day earlier that the public shouldn’t expect the videos’ release.
Curry said he doesn’t expect Rakeyia Scott to speak publicly soon.
“Give the family a chance to mourn and grieve,” Curry said. “At some point we’ll revisit (whether she’ll speak).”
Hundreds of people have protested Scott’s shooting each of the past four nights in Charlotte.
Though Thursday and Friday were relatively peaceful, violence rocked the first two nights, with businesses vandalized and one protester shot dead in front of a hotel. Police arrested Rayquan Borum on Friday in connection with the fatal shooting of Justin Carr.
No arrests, injuries or property damage were reported from protests Friday night into Saturday morning, police said.
Central to the protests are the differing accounts between police and Scott’s family over what led to his death. Authorities said a black police officer fatally shot Scott, a father of seven, at the apartment complex as officers looked for another man named in a warrant they were trying to serve there.
Police said Scott had a gun as he exited his vehicle, and that Officer Brentley Vinson shot him after Scott did not comply with officers’ commands to drop the weapon.
Scott’s family has said he was reading a book and waiting for his son to come home from school at the time. Police said no book was found at the scene.
What the police videos are said to show
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts has said that one factor affecting the timing in the release of the police videos is that investigators want to record witness’ accounts and don’t want their recollections altered by what they see on the videos. Vinson was not carrying a body camera, police said.
Scott’s family said the police videos showed him acting calmly and nonaggressively. Scott didn’t own a gun or habitually carry a gun, family attorney Justin Bamberg said.
“When he was shot and killed, Mr. Scott’s hands were by his side, and he was slowly walking backward,” he said.
The police chief has said the video does not provide “definitive visual evidence” that Scott pointed a gun at officers. The investigation has been turned over to the State Bureau of Investigation, which said the Charlotte-Mecklenberg police are still the custodians of the videos and can release them if they want.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday that the bureau has been looking for several days into the deadly encounter between Scott and police. State investigators have interviewed most of the critical witnesses in the shooting, McCrory said.
Meanwhile, a photo obtained by WSOC-TV shows the immediate aftermath of the shooting, a source close to the investigation told CNN.
A black object near the bottom of the photo is a gun that police found at the scene, the source said.
North Carolina recently passed a law that blocks the release of police recordings from body or dashboard cameras with limited exceptions. That law is set to take effect in October.
The mayor said an attorney for the city told her the law will not affect decisions about whether to release the videos in Scott’s killing, because it was not in effect at the time of the shooting.