Charlotte police officer who fatally shot Keith Scott ‘acted lawfully,’ won’t be charged – Washington Post
Prosecutors said that the officer who fatally shot a Charlotte man in September will not be charged for the shooting, concluding that the man was armed and that the officer acted lawfully during the encounter.
“It’s a justified shooting based on the totality of the circumstances,” R. Andrew Murray, district attorney for Mecklenburg County, said during a news conference Wednesday morning.
The shooting of Keith Lamont Scott on Sept. 20 set off days of heated, sometimes violent protests in Charlotte, some of the most intense demonstrations seen nationwide amid an increased focus on how police use deadly force.
Murray said that the recommendation from 15 career prosecutors in this case was unanimous. He said that he informed Scott’s family of the decision earlier Wednesday.
“It was a difficult decision,” Murray said during a briefing Wednesday morning. “However, the family was extremely gracious.”
Scott’s family said they were “profoundly disappointed” in the announcement Wednesday. They also thanked Murray and investigators for sharing information about how the probe unfolded and concluded.
Police have said that Scott raised a gun at officers before Brentley Vinson, a black plainclothes officer in Charlotte, fired the fatal shots.
Scott’s family has disputed that he pointed a gun at the officer and whether he had a gun. After the shooting, police released photos of a gun and ankle holster, and authorities said that gun was loaded and had Scott’s fingerprints and DNA.
During the news conference, Murray pored over details from the day of the shooting, ultimately saying he had no doubt that Scott had a gun during the encounter. He also said the gun was loaded and had a bullet in the chamber.
“There’s been some speculation in the community regarding whether Mr. Scott was armed,” Murray said. “All of the credible and available evidence suggests that he was, in fact, armed.”
In addition, police had released a photo of a “blunt” from the scene. Police have said that officers in an unmarked car in the apartment complex where the shooting occurred saw Scott, in his own car, rolling the blunt with marijuana.
Murray said Wednesday that while police said they were not going to act on the marijuana, they decided to move on Scott when they saw him raise a gun while sitting in his car.
Vinson was not wearing a recording device at the time of the shooting, police said, but the department released other videos from the scene after intense pressure. Murray said Wednesday that none of the videos showed Scott with the gun in his hand when he got out of his car, something all four officers at the scene reported seeing.
However, Murray said that videos did appear to show that Scott’s pant leg was pulled up above where police said they recovered the ankle holster. During the briefing, Murray also showed surveillance video footage from the same day showing a bulge in Scott’s ankle that he said was consistent with a holster and a gun.
In a recording of the shooting taken by Scott’s wife, Rakeyia, she can be heard yelling at the officers that her husband was unarmed while pleading with them not to fire.
“Don’t shoot him,” she says in the video. “Don’t shoot him. He has no weapon. He has no weapon. Don’t shoot him.”
Footage from a body camera worn by another officer at the scene captured part of the encounter, but it lacked audio because the officer did not activate it until after the shooting. Investigators and the public were therefore unable to learn some key details about what happened before the shots were fired.
An autopsy showed that Scott had four gunshot wounds, including one to his back.