D.A. says man had gun, clears N.C. cop in death

Baltimore Sun - - NATION - By Jef­frey Collins and Tom Fore­man Jr.

CHAR­LOTTE, N.C. — A pros­e­cu­tor on Wed­nes­day cleared a Char­lotte po­lice of­fi­cer in the killing of a black man whose death touched off civil un­rest, and he pre­sented de­tailed ev­i­dence to re­but as­ser­tions that the slain man was un­armed.

Of­fi­cer Brent­ley Vin­son was jus­ti­fied in open­ing fire on Keith Scott and won’t face charges, Char­lotte-Meck­len­burg Dis­trict At­tor­ney An­drew Mur­ray said.

In a 40-minute pre­sen­ta­tion to news re­porters, Mur­ray pro­duced ev­i­dence that Keith Scott was armed with a hand­gun and the of­fi­cer who killed him feared Scott would shoot.

The an­nounce­ment “pro­foundly disap- pointed” Scott’s fam­ily, but they haven’t de­cided whether to file a law­suit, their lawyer said.

Scott, 43, was killed Sept. 20 in the park­ing lot of an apart­ment com­plex.

Much of Mur­ray’s pre­sen­ta­tion cen­tered on the gun and de­bunk­ing wit­nesses who said Scott wasn’t armed.

Mur­ray dis­played a store’s sur­veil­lance video taken shortly be­fore the in­ci­dent, show­ing the out­line of what ap­peared to be a hol­stered gun on Scott’s an­kle. He said Scott’s DNA was found on a Colt .380cal­iber semi-au­to­matic hand­gun re­cov­ered at the scene.

He shared a Face­book con­ver­sa­tion from the man who said he sold the stolen gun to Scott and rec­og­nized him from TV cov­er­age after the shoot­ing, and po­lice ra­dio traf­fic where of­fi­cers talked about the gun be­fore con­fronting Scott.

He also re­leased his re­port on­line and asked the pub­lic to re­view his find­ings be­fore protest­ing again. Two nights of protests after the shoot­ing re­sulted in looted stores near the scene and in down­town Char­lotte, mil­lions of dol­lars of dam­age, a fa­tal shoot­ing and more than two dozen in­juries to po­lice of­fi­cers and oth­ers.

“The com­mu­nity should read the re­port. Di­gest the re­port. Please do not act vis­cer­ally on news snip­pets,” Mur­ray said.

Mur­ray said his team of homi­cide pros­e­cu­tors re­viewed the ev­i­dence, along with other lawyers. He said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­lied on 63 State Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion agents work­ing for 2,300 hours.

“All of the cred­i­ble, avail­able and be­liev­able ev­i­dence sup­ports the con­clu­sion that Scott was armed with a gun,” Mur­ray said.

Im­me­di­ately after the shoot­ing, a video of Scott’s fi­nal mo­ments recorded by his wife, Rakeyia, was posted on so­cial me­dia. In it, she shouted to po­lice that her hus­band “doesn’t have a gun.” She pleaded with of­fi­cers not to shoot be­fore a burst of gun­fire could be heard.

Min­utes after Mur­ray spoke to re­porters, Scott fam­ily at­tor­ney Justin Bam­berg said at a news con­fer­ence that there still isn’t de­fin­i­tive proof Scott had a gun in his hand when he was shot.

Scott’s fam­ily is pro­foundly dis­ap­pointed at the de­ci­sion not to charge Vin­son, but thanked Mur­ray for meet­ing with them for an hour to an­swer their ques­tions, Bam­berg said.

Anyone who’s up­set should not get vi­o­lent but should work on chang­ing a sys­tem that lets of­fi­cers shoot peo­ple with­out tak­ing more steps to pre­vent con­fronta­tions from be­com­ing deadly, Bam­berg said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.