A 43-year-old black man was fatally shot by police Tuesday afternoon at an apartment complex in Charlotte, North Carolina, sparking protests from members of the community.
The man identified as Keith Lamont Scott. His family says he was disabled.
The officer who shot Scott was identified Tuesday night as Officer Brentley Vinson, WJZY-TV reports.
According to the Charlotte Observer, the shooting occurred in the parking lot of the Village at College Downs apartment complex on Old Concord Road just before 4 p.m.
Officers were attempting to serve an arrest warrant, but the man who was shot was not the person they were attempting to take into custody. Police told the newspaper Scott was armed and a gun was recovered at the scene by detectives.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said the officers felt their lives were endangered and at least one officer shot Scott, the Observer reports.
Scott was taken to a local hospital, where he died, police said.
His family has disputed the police statements about the shooting, saying he was waiting for his son to come home from school when police arrived at the apartment complex and shot him.
Video filmed by his wife, which shows the events leading up to the shooting and the aftermath, but not the shooting itself, was released by Scott’s family. You can watch the video here.
Here’s what we know so far:
1. Police Say Scott ‘Posed an Imminent Deadly Threat,’ but His Family Says He Was Reading a Book When He Was Shot by an Undercover Cop
While footage recorded on police body and dashboard cameras remains unreleased amid protests calling for it to be made public, Keith Scott’s family released video on Friday that was recorded by his wife. In the video, which you can watch below, Rakeiya Scott can be heard pleading with police not to shoot her husband, saying he has a traumatic brain injury (which was suffered in a motorcycle crash) and just took his medicine.
Police can be heard telling Scott to drop a gun multiple times, while his wife tells him “not to do it,” though it is unclear what she is referencing.
The video does not show the actual shooting, but the shots can be heard.
Many questions about what happened remain unanswered, and police and the Scott’s family have both presented conflicting stories.
The shooting happened in the 9600 block of Old Concord Road at 3:54 p.m., the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said in a press release.
Police said the Metro Division Crime Reduction Unit was searching for a suspect with an outstanding warrant at The Village at College Downs apartment complex.
“Officers observed a subject inside a vehicle in the apartment complex,” police said in the press release. “The subject exited the vehicle armed with a firearm. Officers observed the subject get back into the vehicle at which time they began to approach the subject.”
“The subject got back out of the vehicle armed with a firearm and posed an imminent deadly threat to officers who subsequently fired their weapon striking the subject,” police said.
Police said Officer Brentley Vinson fired the fatal shot.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said at a Wednesday morning press conference that Keith Lamont Scott refused orders to drop the gun he was holding. He said detectives found the gun “in close proximity” to Scott.
“The officers gave loud, clear verbal commands that were also heard by many of the witnesses,” Putney said. “They were instructing the subject, once he got out of the vehicle, to drop the weapon. Despite the verbal commands, Mr. Scott exited the vehicle as the officers continued to yell at him to drop it. He stepped out, posing a threat to the officers, and Officer Brentley Vinson subsequently fired his weapon, striking the subject.”
According to police, officers “immediately requested” a medic and “began performing CPR” after Scott was shot.
Scott was taken to Carolinas Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Putney said the weapon was first seen when Scott exited the vehicle the second time. He also said he cannot say definitively that Scott pointed the gun at an officer.
But his family tells a different story. They say Scott was reading a book in his car while waiting for his son to be dropped off by a school bus. His brother told reporters that the officer who shot Scott was undercover and was in plainclothes.
His sister told reporters Scott did not have a gun:
But despite the family’s claims, police sources leaked a photo to local news reporters, claiming it shows a gun at the scene:
The supposed gun seen in photos leaked to the media does not appear in the video, but it is not clear if it was moved to the location near the sidewalk after the video recording ended.
On Wednesday, Putney, the city’s police chief said “it’s time to change the narrative. Because I can tell you from the facts, that the story is a little bit different as to how it’s been portrayed so far, especially through social media.”
Putney said “I can tell you a weapon was seized, a handgun, I can also tell you we did not find a book that was made reference to. We did find a weapon, and the witnesses corroborated it too, beyond just the officers.”
The chief also said the officer, Vinson, was in plainclothes, but had a vest on with CMPD and police on the front and back. Uniformed officers were also at the scene, Putney said.
The chief said he does not know if the gun was loaded. Officials have also not said if the gun was legally owned.
The shooting remains under investigation. Putney said he could not provide other details about the case because he did not want to jeopardize the investigation.
Video footage recorded at the scene has not been released. Scott’s family watched the video on Thursday.
“When he was shot and killed, Mr. Scott’s hands were by his side and he was slowly walking backwards,” his family said in a statement, adding 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.”
The family called for the video footage to be released to the public immediately.
Putney told the Charlotte Observer he believes the video shows the officer was justified.
“If I felt laws were broken, I would have taken action by now,” Putney said in an interview with the newspaper on Thursday, saying he means he would have filed charges.
At a press conference earlier Thursday, held before they watched the video, attorneys for Scott’s family said he did not own a gun, and did not habitually carry one, as far as they know.
Attorney Justin Bamberg also said Scott’s wife saw him get shot and it is “something she will never forget.”
He said the family still is not sure that there was a gun at the scene, and added that some witnesses still say Scott was holding a book.
Bamberg also represented the family of Walter Scott, no relation to Keith Scott, who was fatally shot by police in South Carolina. He is a legislator in South Carolina.
Sources told WBTV on Friday that the gun found near Scott had his fingerprints, DNA and blood on it, and was loaded.
Officials have still said they do not plan to release the body camera and dashboard camera footage at this time, though the city’s mayor has called for it to be released as soon as possible.
2. Scott’s Daughter Live Streamed Video on Facebook After the Shooting & Protesters Took to the Streets Tuesday Night
Keith Lamont Scott’s daughter, Lyric Scott, streamed live video on Facebook from the scene of the shooting for about an hour Tuesday afternoon, showing confrontations with police and the raw emotions of a family who just lost a father and brother.
The video, which you can watch below (warning, it contains strong language), starts with the woman recording officers at the crime scene:
“The police just shot my daddy four times for being black,” she says. “They Tased him first and then shot him.”
More than 500,000 people have watched the video after the Tuesday afternoon shooting. The story quickly spread on social media, with #KeithLamontScott trending on Twitter and Facebook.
Dozens of people gathered at the scene of the shooting by Tuesday night to protest and call for justice. The protests continued into Wednesday morning, with some people turning violent, smashing patrol cars, throwing rocks at police officers and cars, and shutting down traffic on Interstate 85. Video from a local news station showed people looting semi-trucks and then setting the contents of the trucks on fire on the highway.’
Officers at the scene were wearing body armor during the standoff with community members, according to photos and videos from the scene, which you can watch here.
The police department said on Twitter that the “Civil Emergency Unit deployed to safely remove our officers from old concord. … Demonstrators surrounded our officers who were attempting to leave scene. A number of agitators have joined demonstrators.”
According to police, an officer “sustained injuries in an attempt to deescalate agitators during demonstration.” The injuries were not threatening, police said.
In a later tweet, police said, “Several officers injured tonight working to protect our community during demonstration.”
“I will continue to work with our manager & Chief on officer involved shooting. We are reaching out to community to ask for calm,” Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts tweeted.
Roberts extended condolences to Scott’s family at a Wednesday morning press conference, and asked the community to “wait until all information is available” before coming to conclusions about the shooting.
You can watch live video from the scene at the link below:
3. Scott Was Married & the Father of 7 Children, His Family Says
Scott was married with seven children and a “great man and great father,” a family member told Heavy. He was married for more than 20 years.
He waited at the bus stop every day for his son, according to his family.
His daughter said in her Facebook video that Scott was disabled.
Neighbors told the Charlotte Observer he walked with a cane and often had a book in his hand.
“He did the same things every day,” one neighbor told the newspaper. “I would see him with his cane. Either he sat in his truck there, or he sat up when it was time to get the kids off the bus. But he walked with a book, he sat in his car, quiet man.”
Her husband said Scott was a familiar site in the parking lot, walking laps and waiting in his truck near the entrance when school let out to wait on his children. “That man didn’t bother nobody.”
A GoFundMe account has been set-up to help his family.
Rakeyia Scott, his wife, said in a statement, “My family is devastated by the shooting death of my husband, Keith. Keith was a loving husband, father, brother and friend who will be deeply missed every day. As a family, we respect the rights of those who wish to protest, but we ask that people protest peacefully.”
His mother, Vernita Walker, told the Observer her son loved his family and was a “likable” person.
“He loved his wife and his children … And this was, they don’t want to say it, but a mama’s boy. Yes, he’s one of those. But he was a smart, young man,” she said, adding she still struggles to talk about him in past tense.
His attorney said he was seriously injured in an accident about a year ago, and suffered head trauma.
4. The Officer Who Shot Scott Has Been Placed on Paid Leave, Police Say
Vinson, 26, has been with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department since 2014. His father, Alex Vinson, is a private investigator in Charlotte who worked as a police officer and supervisor with the CMPD for 27 years before retiring as a sergeant.
The younger Vinson graduated from Charlotte’s Ardrey Kell High School in 2007 and then played college football at Liberty University after a post-graduate year at Fork Union Military School, according to his biography on Liberty’s website. He graduated from Liberty with a criminal justice degree.
The shooting was initially being investigated by the police department’s homicide unit, but it is now being lead by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
“As is standard procedure with any officer involved shooting, the Internal Affairs Bureau will conduct a separate, but parallel, investigation to determine whether CMPD policies and procedures were adhered to during the course of the incident,” police said.
Officer Vinson was not wearing a body camera, but some of the officers at the scene were, police said. There is body camera footage from the scene, but Police Chief Kerr Putney said he has not seen all of the video yet.
“The videos that I have reviewed, I cannot see in totality everything that occurred,” Putney said.
He said investigators are still going through all the footage, including dashboard camera recordings, but said it is part of the investigation and cannot be released until that is completed.
North Carolina’s legislature recently passed a law, which was signed by Governor Pat McCrory, to restrict public access to police shooting videos.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday the Justice Department is “aware of” and is “assessing” the Charlotte shooting, NBC News reports.
Scott is the sixth person killed by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in 2016, according to WSOC-TV. The district attorney’s office found the first five shootings to be justified, the news station reports.
The shooting also comes a year after a mistrial in the voluntary manslaughter case against Charlotte-Mecklenburg officer Randall Kerrick, who killed Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed 24-year-old former college football player in 2013. Ferrell had been in a car accident and was seeking help when he was shot.
The state declined to seek a retrial against Kerrick. The case sparked outrage in the community and has been referenced several times as a precursor to the anger that comes in the wake of Scott’s death.
5. Scott’s Death Comes a Day After Bodycam Footage Was Released From a Controversial Oklahoma Police Shooting
The fatal shooting of Scott comes among heightened tensions over another shooting of a black man. Terence Crutcher , 40, was unarmed when he was killed by a police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last Friday.
Videos recorded on police dashboard cameras and from a police helicopter were released Monday, leading to outrage. His family has called for the officer to be charged with murder, saying Crutcher was shot while his arms were raised in the air.
Officer Betty Shelby, who shot Crutcher, was placed on paid leave as the shooting is investigated by the Tulsa Police Department and the U.S. Justice Department.
Police say Crutcher did not listen to officers’ commands and Shelby’s attorney says he was reaching into his SUV, which had been abandoned in the middle of the road, when Shelby shot him. His family disputes the police version of events, saying Crutcher’s window was closed and he could not have been reaching into the vehicle.
Shelby has been charged with first-degree manslaughter.
You can read more about the shooting at the link below: