Keith Scott shooting: What we know a week later
It’s been a week since a Charlotte, North Carolina, police officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott.
The 43-year-old black man’s death sparked protests and added more fuel to the national debate over whether police are too quick to use deadly force, particularly against African-American men. The officer who shot Scott also was black — a fact that people on both sides are pointing to as they make their case.
Police and Scott’s family agree on at least one thing: More information needs to come out about what happened that day — and why.
Last week’s release of a cell phone video that Scott’s wife recorded during the shooting gave the public its first view of the shooting scene and its aftermath.
Here are some significant pieces of the story we’ve learned about in the past few days:
A previous protective order
In fall 2015, Rakeyia Scott asked a court in Gaston County, not far from Charlotte, for a domestic violence protective order against her husband, saying he had a gun and threatened to kill her with it. Keith Scott also had hit her and a child, she said.
Authorities tried to find Keith Scott, but he had moved to South Carolina. Rakeyia Scott two weeks later dropped her request, writing: “He is no longer a threat to me and my family.”
In those court filings obtained by CNN, Rakeyia Scott said her husband had threatened to kill her with a gun. “He said he is a ‘killer’ and we should know that,” Rakeyia Scott said. She said her husband had hit her 8-year-old son in the head three times and had kicked her.
“He has a 9mm and threatened to use it last night. … He does not have a permit,” she wrote. “He is a felon.”
Justin Bamberg, an attorney representing the Scott family, says information in the 2015 court filing has nothing to do with last week’s shooting.
“At the end of the day, regardless of what salacious facts come out about his past, none of that affects whether or not he deserved to be shot,” Bamberg said. “We know and we can see with our own eyes what happened in the moments that matter. The past has to be put in a box.”
After a November 2015 motorcycle accident that left him in a coma for days and seriously injured, Scott came home from the hospital in January 2016 a changed man, Bamberg said.
“According to his wife, he did not have a gun and she did not see a gun,” Bamberg said.
Police say the officer opened fire last Tuesday after Scott stepped out of a vehicle with a gun in his hand and didn’t obey commands to drop it.
Photos released Saturday by police of the gun recovered at the scene of the shooting show a Colt .380 Mustang, a small pistol.
Officers decided to approach Scott after Officer Brentley Vinson saw Scott hold up a gun up while in his SUV, police have said.
North Carolina is an open-carry state, meaning gun owners can carry their firearms in public and openly in their vehicles.
The police video
Under mounting pressure from the public, Charlotte police released dashcam and body camera footage of the shooting over the weekend.
Dashcam footage shows an officer in plain clothes with his weapon drawn on Scott as he exits an SUV and begins walking backward. Then Scott is shot at four times by Vinson, who’s off camera at the time.
Body camera footage shows an officer racing to the scene. In the chaos, Scott is briefly shown with his right arm by his side. Moments later, he lies on the ground with five officers converging on him.
Charlotte’s police chief has said the videos tell only part of the story; the totality of the evidence he said, will show that the shooting was justified. Attorneys for Scott’s family have said the videos show he wasn’t aggressive when police surrounded him.
The videos don’t clearly show whether Scott was armed. And critics have also homed in on one key detail missing from the beginning of body camera video released by police: sound.
That, officials say, is because the body camera doesn’t start recording audio until 20 seconds after an officer manually activates it.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said there are other videos, but indicated the two released Friday are the most pertinent toward determining what happened.
People have protested each day since the shooting, initially spurred to action by a Facebook video recorded by one of Scott’s children. His daughter said her father was in his SUV reading a book, waiting for a son to come home from school.
On the first two nights, protests turned violent, with objects thrown at officers one day, and store-front windows broken, some shops looted and a protester shot dead on the second.
City officials decided to enact a curfew across Charlotte, while Gov. Pat McCrory declared of a state of emergency. The curfew has since been lifted.
Over the weekend and Monday, protesters marched again in Charlotte streets, though in smaller numbers.
On Monday, a young girl named Zianna Oliphant addressed the Charlotte City Council.
“It’s a shame that (African-American) fathers and mothers are killed and we can’t see them anymore,” she said as tears streamed down her face.
The poignant moment came during the first council meeting since Scott was killed. Many protesters called for the mayor and the police chief to step down.