Officer Brentley Vinson – a cop’s son and former college football player known for “tremendous speed” – was identified as the Charlotte police officer who fired the fatal shot that killed Keith Lamont Scott.
Protests grew into riots in the hours after the shooting and deteriorated into violence for a second day. The shooting occurred on September 20 when Charlotte police were trying to execute a search warrant at an apartment complex.
Although police said Scott was armed, Scott’s family claimed otherwise, sparking a protest that rose in intensity as people spilled into streets, yelled in the faces of police officers, looted trucks, lit fires, and threw things at officers and squads. Charlotte Police said that 16 officers were injured on Tuesday alone and one was struck with a rock.
The police chief, Kerr Putney, who is also black, pushed back hard at social media narratives that Scott had a book, not a gun. He said on September 21 that Scott was armed with a gun and refused commands to drop it, and that police did not find a book at the scene, according to WSOC-TV. At least seven civilians were also injured in the unrest on Tuesday alone. The violence escalated Wednesday with more violence, including an incident in which a civilian shot another civilian, critically wounding him, according to the City of Charlotte’s Twitter page. Another four officers were also injured Wednesday, the city said.
Both Vinson and Scott are African-American.
The police shooting gained extra media attention when Scott’s daughter streamed the moments after it in an expletive-laden broadcast on Facebook Live.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Vinson Is the Son of One of the First Black Detectives on the Charlotte Police Force
Vinson comes from a law enforcement family.
A WSOC-TV reporter said on Twitter that Vinson is the son of one of the first black detectives on the Charlotte police force.
The Charlotte Observer says that Vinson’s father, Alex, is retired and declined comment on the case, citing police protocol.
Scott’s family says Scott was reading a book in his car while waiting for his son to be dropped off by a school bus. Witnesses said Scott had a disability, according to The Huffington Post.
Family and friends told news reporters that Scott only had a book and was unarmed, which police dispute. A Go Fund Me site was started for Scott’s family. It says, “Keith Lamont Scott was shot reportedly 4 times while reading a book and waiting for his son to get off the bus. He has sadly been taken away from his wife Rakeyia Scott and 7 children and family who love him dearly.”
The notion that Scott may have been unarmed flew around social media, with many people expressing outrage, especially as the shooting came in the wake of anger that was already brewing over the shooting death in Tulsa, Oklahoma of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed man. The difference: Police in Tulsa admit Crutcher was unarmed. Police in Charlotte say Scott had a gun.
Police said they recovered a gun Scott was holding at the scene, according to CNN. The network quoted Chief Putney as saying, “It’s time to change the narrative because I can tell you from the facts that the story’s a little bit different as to how it’s been portrayed so far, especially through social media.” He said that Scott refused demands to drop the gun but the officer was not wearing a body camera, according to CNN and WSOC-TV.
According to the Associated Press, the police chief says videos of the incident do not definitively show Scott point the gun, however, and the police will share the videos with the family.
2. Vinson Is a Former Football Player for Liberty University With ‘Tremendous Speed in Blitzing’
According to his Liberty University biography, Vinson was a criminal justice major who “transferred to Liberty from Fork Union Military Academy … started every game for Fork Union in 2008 … graduated from Ardrey Kell High School … was a Southwestern 4A all-conference defensive back in 2006 … was forced to sit out the 2007 season due to an injury.”
The biography added, “Had an excellent spring at a new position … brings speed to the position … provides tremendous speed in blitzing and coming off the edges … real physical ball player … can cover a lot of ground … will play deep sometimes … makes the defense stronger.”
Fox 46 says Vinson is on administrative leave, but it’s standard procedure for police to place an officer on administrative leave after an on-duty shooting.
WSOC-TV said that Vinson joined the police department on July 21, 2014 and is currently assigned to the Metro Division. The television station added that both Vinson and Scott are African-American.
3. Police Allege That Scott Posed an Imminent Deadly Threat
According to The Charlotte Observer, police said in a statement that they had gone to a parking complex to serve a warrant.
Read the full police statement here:
The police statement released to the news media says that officers from the Metro Division Crime Reduction Unit were searching for a suspect with an outstanding warrant on him at the Village at College downs when they observed a person, Scott, inside a vehicle in the apartment complex.
“The subject exited the vehicle armed with a firearm,” the statement says. “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 the officers who subsequently fired their weapon.”
A WBTV reporter released what she said was a picture from a police source of the gun recovered at the scene:
CNN also said police allege that Scott was armed but was not the person they were initially seeking with the warrant.
A cell phone video filmed by Rakeyia Scott, the wife of the slain Keith Lamont Scott, does not show the shooting of her husband but shows the moments leading up to it. Gunfire is heard on camera. You can watch that video and learn more about it here.
The video starts with Rakeyia Scott filming the parking lot, saying, “Don’t shoot him. He has no weapon.” A police squad car then drives past with lights on. In the distance, a man yells, “Drop the gun. Drop the f**cking gun.”
Scott’s wife says, “He doesn’t have a gun. He has a TBI. He’s not going to do anything to you guys.” A TBI is a “traumatic brain injury.”
She urges her husband to comply with officers, telling Scott, “Keith, don’t let them break the windows! Come on out of the car… Keith, don’t do it! Keith, Keith, Keith — don’t you do it!”
Multiple gunshots are then heard.
4. Vinson Had Long Talked About Becoming a Cop or Federal Officer, a Coach Says
The Charlotte Observer newspaper quotes a former middle school coach of Brentley Vinson as saying Vinson talked about being a cop or federal officer for years, adding, “I thought when he became a police officer like his dad (Alex) that it was a perfect fit for him. I’ve watched this kid work his butt off from an early age. … He’s a phenomenal kid.”
The shooting sparked two days of riots.
Reports on social media said that water bottles, rocks, and other items were being tossed at officers as crowds grew raucous after the shooting, fueled in part by social media posts on it.
WSOC-TV said an officer suffered non life-threatening injuries. Charlotte police later tweeted that at least 16 officers were injured, including one with a rock. On day 2, four more officers were injured, a demonstrator was shot and is in critical condition, and a man was beaten in a parking garage.
Scott’s brother said on video that all white people are f–king devils, although the officer who shot and killed Scott was also African-American.
The unrest was growing more intense in the early morning hours of September 21 as people ignited fires and looted a truck, prompting the driver, who was still inside, to tell a local news reporter she feared for her life.
The reporter, Joe Bruno, posted audio of his interview with the shaken truck driver. Listen:
Protests confronted cops in riot gear, yelling at them from a few inches away.
Police reported that officers were injured:
“No justice, no peace!” protesters yelled, according to CNN.
On September 21, the North Carolina governor said he was praying for Scott’s family as well as the injured officers, and civil rights leaders called for an economic boycott of Charlotte, said WSOC-TV. However, on Wednesday evening, and into Thursday morning, the violence escalated.
5. Scott’s Daughter Streamed the Aftermath of the Shooting on Facebook Live
The shooting of Scott instantly provoked outrage after Scott’s daughter streamed the aftermath of the scene on Facebook Live.
“The police just shot my daddy…for being black,” Scott’s daughter said in an angry, lengthy Facebook Live post that went viral on the Internet. See above (warning: graphic language). Thousands of people viewed it on the Internet in real time.
Although police said Vinson was in plainclothes, he was wearing a marked police vest, said The Charlotte Observer.
Justin Bamberg, the attorney for Scott’s family, told CNN that Scott’s wife witnessed the shooting. The family watched the body cam video of the shooting, and Bamberg told Anderson Cooper: “His hands are down by his side, he’s acting calm…he looks to be confused. You do see something in his hand but it’s impossible to make out what it is.” At the moment Scott was shot, he “appeared to be stepping backwards,” he said. Bamberg claimed Scott didn’t have a gun and didn’t own one.
Lyric’s video wasn’t the only dramatic one out of Charlotte. See: