Rakeyia Scott, the wife of Keith L. Scott, recorded the moments before and after the shooting of her husband by the police in Charlotte, N.C. The video includes graphic violence and disturbing language.
Publish Date September 23, 2016. Photo by Rakeyia Scott. Watch in Times Video »
The Sept. 20 #shooting of Mr. Scott, who the #police said had a handgun when he was killed, set off days of unrest in North Carolina’s largest city and led to immense public pressure on the police to release dashboard and body camera recordings, which did not prove that Mr. Scott had been armed.
Still, the decision not to prosecute the officer, Brentley Vinson, who is black, was not a surprise. In September, the chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Kerr Putney, said that the officer was “absolutely not being charged by me at this point.”
R. Andrew Murray, the district attorney for Mecklenburg County, said on Wednesday that Officer Vinson was justified in using deadly force against Mr. Scott, saying that he feared for his life and those of his fellow officers.
“Officer Vinson acted lawfully when he shot Mr. Scott,” Mr. Murray said.
Mr. Murray said that despite claims that Mr. Scott was not carrying a gun, he had a .380 semiautomatic handgun with a round of ammunition in the chamber. “All of the credible and available evidence suggests that he was armed,” Mr. Murray said of Mr. Scott.
The shooting, at an apartment complex in Charlotte’s University City neighborhood, happened after two plainclothes officers determined that Mr. Scott, 43, was a potential threat to public safety because they saw him with a gun and what they believed was a marijuana cigarette.
The Police Department said that officers approached Mr. Scott in his vehicle because he was armed and that he ultimately defied “clear, loud and repeated verbal commands” to drop the handgun.
Officer Vinson, the department said in September, soon “perceived Mr. Scott’s actions and movements as an imminent physical threat to himself and the other officers.” The officer opened fire as Mr. Scott, who had exited his vehicle, walked backward, his arms at his sides.
The recordings that the Police Department released did not definitively establish whether or not Mr. Scott was armed, but the police distributed photographs of the ankle holster and handgun they said Mr. Scott had in his possession when he was killed. In a video that Mr. Scott’s wife, Rakeyia Scott, recorded during the confrontation, she can be heard telling the officers, “Don’t shoot him. He has no weapon.”
Lawyers for Mr. Scott’s family have said it is possible that Mr. Scott did not understand the instructions because he was recovering from a traumatic brain injury that he suffered in a motorcycle accident last year. Ms. Scott told the officers during the episode that Mr. Scott had a “T.B.I.,” and that he “just took his medicine.”
Mr. Scott’s death led to days of protests in Charlotte, some of which turned violent. The local authorities imposed a curfew, and the National Guard was deployed to the city.
Richard Fausset reported from Raleigh, and Alan Blinder from Charleston, S.C.
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