Ten­sion over video grows in Char­lotte

In­ves­ti­ga­tion cited in re­fusal to re­lease cop shoot­ing tapes

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By Mitch Weiss and Meg Kinnard

CHAR­LOTTE, N.C. — Char­lotte po­lice re­fused un­der mount­ing pres­sure Thurs­day to re­lease video that could re­solve wildly dif­fer­ing ac­counts of the shoot­ing of a black man, as the Na­tional Guard ar­rived to try to head off a third night of vi­o­lence.

The fam­ily of Keith La­mont Scott, 43, de­manded po­lice re­lease the video af­ter show­ing them the footage at their re­quest. The fam­ily’s lawyer said he couldn’t tell whether Scott was hold­ing a gun.

Char­lotte-Meck­len­burg po­lice Chief Kerr Put­ney said that re­leas­ing po­lice dash­cam and body cam­era footage of Scott’s killing could un­der­mine the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He told re­porters the video will be made pub­lic when he be­lieves there is a “com­pelling rea­son” to do so.

“You shouldn’t ex­pect it to be re­leased,” Put­ney said. “I’m not go­ing to jeop­ar­dize the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

The city’s mayor, Jen­nifer Roberts, de­clared a cur­few Thurs­day that will run from mid­night to 6 a.m.

Roberts said the city­wide cur­few will be in place un­til of­fi­cials de­ter­mine they no longer need it.

Mean­while, an undis­closed num­ber of Na­tional Guards­men as­sem­bled in Char­lotte, sent in by Gov. Pat McCrory af­ter a sec­ond night of racial un­rest that seemed at odds with Char­lotte’s im­age as a di­verse, for­ward-look­ing bank­ing cap­i­tal of the New South.

Char­lotte is just the lat­est U.S. city to be shaken by protests and re­crim­i­na­tions over the death of a black man at the hands of po­lice, a list that in­cludes Bal­ti­more, Mil­wau­kee, Chicago, New York and Fer­gu­son, Mo. In Tulsa, Okla., on Thurs­day, pros­e­cu­tors charged a white of­fi­cer Po­lice of­fi­cers in riot gear stand at the ready in down­town Char­lotte, N.C., on Thurs­day. with man­slaugh­ter for killing an un­armed black man on a city street last week.

In Char­lotte, scores of ri­ot­ers Wed­nes­day night at­tacked re­porters and oth­ers, set fires and smashed win­dows of ho­tels, of­fice build­ings and restau­rants in the city’s bustling down­town.

Forty-four peo­ple were ar­rested, and one pro­tester who was shot died at the hos­pi­tal Thurs­day; city of­fi­cials said that po­lice did not shoot the man and that no ar­rests have been made in 26-year-old Justin Carr’s death.

On Thurs­day, in a mea­sure of how tense things had be­come, three of Char­lotte’s ma­jor em­ploy­ers — Bank of Amer­ica, Wells Fargo and Duke En­ergy — told thou­sands of em­ploy­ees not to ven­ture into the city.

In ad­di­tion to the Na­tional Guards­men, North Carolina state troop­ers and U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment con­flic­tres­o­lu­tion ex­perts were sent to keep the peace.

Po­lice have said that Scott was shot to death Tues­day by a black of­fi­cer af­ter he dis­re­garded re­peated warn­ings to drop his gun. Neigh­bors, though, have said he was hold­ing a book. The po­lice chief said that a gun was found next to the dead man.

Put­ney said that he has seen the video and it does not con­tain “ab­so­lute, de­fin­i­tive ev­i­dence that would con­firm that a per­son was point­ing a gun.” But he added: “When taken in the to­tal­ity of all the other ev­i­dence, it sup­ports what we said.”

Justin Bam­berg, an at­tor­ney for Scott’s fam­ily, watched the video with the slain man’s rel­a­tives. He said Scott gets out of his ve­hi­cle calmly.

“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. It is im­pos­si­ble to dis­cern from the videos what, if any­thing, Mr. Scott is hold­ing in his hands,” Bam­berg said in a state­ment.

Scott was shot as he walked slowly back­ward with his hands by his side, Bam­berg said.

JEFF SINER/CHAR­LOTTE OB­SERVER

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