Of­fi­cer who shot, killed armed black man will face no charges

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY ANDREA NOBLE

Pros­e­cu­tors will not file charges against a North Carolina police of­fi­cer who shot and killed a black man out­side his apart­ment com­plex — a video­taped in­ci­dent that trig­gered vi­o­lent protests in the Char­lotte-Meck­len­burg area in Septem­ber.

Meck­len­burg District At­tor­ney An­drew Mur­ray said Char­lotte-Meck­len­burg Police Of­fi­cer Brent­ley Vin­son “acted law­fully” when he fa­tally shot Keith La­mont Scott af­ter of­fi­cers or­dered the 43-year-old father out of his car and in­structed him to drop his hand­gun.

Police were at Scott’s apart­ment com­plex Sept. 20 to ar­rest a wanted crim­i­nal but de­cided to stop Scott af­ter of­fi­cers saw him in pos­ses­sion of mar­i­juana and a hand­gun.

The ac­cu­sa­tion that Scott was armed ini­tially was con­tested by his wife, who video­taped the shoot­ing, and sev­eral wit­nesses — lead­ing to wide­spread anger and protests within the com­mu­nity.

Mr. Mur­ray said police strug­gled with the spread of mis­in­for­ma­tion by peo­ple who claimed to have wit­nessed the shoot­ing but later re­canted their state­ments when they were for­mally in­ter­viewed as part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“I want ev­ery­one in this com­mu­nity to know we metic­u­lously, thor­oughly re­viewed all of the ev­i­dence in this case,” said Mr. Mur­ray, not­ing that 15 ca­reer pros­e­cu­tors made the unan­i­mous de­ci­sion not to file charges. “We made sure it was cred­i­ble ev­i­dence in or­der to make the de­ci­sion that we made today.”

Dur­ing a 40-minute pre­sen­ta­tion to re­porters Wed­nes­day, Mr. Mur­ray pre­sented ev­i­dence to dis­prove claims that Scott did not own a firearm and was car­ry­ing a book when Of­fi­cer Vin­son, who is also black, shot him.

An at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing Scott’s fam­ily, Charles Mon­nett, said they still have ques­tions about how police re­acted dur­ing the in­ci­dent, in­clud­ing whether of­fi­cers used tech­niques to de-es­ca­late the sit­u­a­tion be­fore draw­ing their weapons.

“This doesn’t end our in­quiry,” said Mr. Mon­nett, not­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of civil li­a­bil­ity on the part of the of­fi­cer or the police depart­ment.

Scott’s fam­ily pre­vi­ously had said he did not own a firearm. In a video taken at the scene by Scott’s wife, Rakeyia Scott, she can be heard yelling to police that her hus­band doesn’t have a gun as she pleads with them not to shoot him.

Nei­ther the video taken by Mrs. Scott nor police of­fi­cers’ body-worn cam­eras show Scott’s hands — and whether he was car­ry­ing a firearm. But Mr. Mur­ray said other ev­i­dence, in­clud­ing of­fi­cer in­ter­views and police ra­dio com­mu­ni­ca­tions, es­tab­lished that Scott was hold­ing the gun when he stepped out of his car.

“Of­fi­cers can be heard at least 10 times telling Scott to drop the gun,” Mr. Mur­ray said. “He doesn’t run, doesn’t drop the gun, doesn’t leave it in the car.”

Scott suf­fered from a trau­matic brain in­jury, and Mr. Mur­ray said Scott was de­scribed by of­fi­cers as hav­ing a “trance­like look,” and his ac­tions ap­peared in line with that of some­one tak­ing med­i­ca­tion.

Dur­ing the news con­fer­ence, Mr. Mur­ray played surveil­lance video of Scott en­ter­ing a store shortly be­fore the shoot­ing. It shows what was de­scribed by pros­e­cu­tors as the out­line of a hol­stered gun un­der Scott’s pant leg. A Colt .380-cal­iber semi-au­to­matic hand­gun was re­cov­ered from the scene, and Scott was wear­ing an an­kle hol­ster at the time he was shot, the pros­e­cu­tors said.

Mr. Mur­ray said the gun was stolen about three weeks ear­lier and some­one had sold the firearm to Scott, a con­victed felon who was banned from own­ing a firearm. The prose­cu­tor dis­played the text of a Face­book con­ver­sa­tion the seller of the firearm had with an­other per­son in which he de­scribed sell­ing the gun to him.

Cog­nizant of con­cern that vi­o­lence could erupt for a sec­ond time over pros­e­cu­tors’ de­ci­sion, Mr. Mur­ray and oth­ers pleaded for the com­mu­nity to take a “col­lec­tive pause” and for those an­gered by the de­ci­sion to read his of­fice’s re­port for them­selves.

“Please do not act vis­cer­ally on news snip­pets. Read the re­port,” Mr. Mur­ray said, re­fer­ring to the in­ves­tiga­tive re­port that will be posted to the district at­tor­ney’s web­site.

For two nights af­ter Scott’s death, pro­test­ers ri­oted and looted stores in down­town Char­lotte, caus­ing mil­lions of dol­lars in dam­age. One per­son was fa­tally shot dur­ing the chaos and more than two dozen peo­ple were in­jured.

Char­lotte of­fi­cials were pre­pared for fur­ther demon­stra­tions fol­low­ing Wed­nes­day’s an­nounce­ment, with the police depart­ment mo­bi­liz­ing its spe­cial­ized police units.

“We rec­og­nize that for some mem­bers of our com­mu­nity, this news will be met with dif­fer­ent re­ac­tions. No mat­ter where you stand on the is­sue, the events sur­round­ing the Scott shoot­ing have for­ever changed our com­mu­nity, and we in­tend to learn from and build a stronger Char­lotte be­cause of it,” city lead­ers said Wed­nes­day. “The city is com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing its work with the com­mu­nity to pre­serve safety, trust and ac­count­abil­ity.”


The fam­ily of Keith La­mont Scott, in­clud­ing his wife Rakeyia Scott (right), speak af­ter find­ing out charges would not be filed against Police Of­fi­cer Brent­ley Vin­son in the fa­tal shoot­ing of her hus­band. Both the vic­tim and the of­fi­cer were black.

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