Bowing to nearly a week of intense public pressure, the Charlotte Police Department released video footage on Saturday of officers shooting Keith Lamont Scott. The videos, recorded by an officer's body camera and a dash-cam inside a police vehicle, offer new perspectives of the September 20 incident that sparked riots and protests in the North Carolina city.
Police have said that Scott, 43, was holding a gun when he was shot, but witnesses have disputed that claim. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said at a press conference Saturday that the officers approached Scott over suspected marijuana possession, and the situation escalated when they saw he had a gun. Police released photos of a pistol and holster found at the scene, and what appears to be a partially smoked marijuana cigarette.
Scott's family members have said he was holding a book. On Friday, Scott's family released cellphone footage filmed by his wife. In the video, she can be heard saying, "Don't shoot him, don't shoot him, he has no weapon," before the officers open fire. She can also be heard telling him, "Keith get out the car, Keith don't you do it. Don't you do it. Don't you fucking do it" moments before the shots were fired.
After viewing the police footage in private on Friday, Justin Bamberg, one of the Scott family's attorneys, told the New York Times that Scott "doesn't make any dramatic movements" during the encounter, and said he appeared to take a couple of steps forward "in a nonaggressive manner." Scott's wife can be heard in her video telling officers Scott had just taken medication, and Bamberg said Scott seemed "confused" by the situation.
Earlier in the week, prior to the release of the footage, Putney acknowledged that the videos do not appear to show Scott threatening the police officers who shot him.
"The video does not give me absolute, definitive visual evidence that would confirm that a person is pointing a gun," the chief said at a press conference on Thursday.
Putney initially refused to make the videos public, citing the ongoing investigation into the incident and fear of backlash. Protesters took to the streets throughout the week, with the demonstrations erupting into violence on Tuesday and Wednesday. One person was shot and killed — a 21-year-old suspect has been arrested and charged — several officers were injured, and looters ransacked stores and vandalized property. The National Guard has been deployed to help keep the peace.
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