By: Hannah Paige Michels ~Head Photo Editor~
Keith Lamont Scott, 43, was shot four times and killed by police officer Brentley Vinson, 26, on Sept. 20 in Charlotte, N.C.
Two Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers were responding to a warrant when Scott, a Black man, was seen sitting in his SUV with what appeared to be marijuana and a gun. Scott was not approached until Vinson saw him, “[exit] the vehicle armed with a firearm.” Officers approached Scott once he had returned to sitting in his car.
Controversy surrounding Scott’s shooting stems from a lack of clear body or dashcam footage showing Scott in possession of a gun. In the video, Scott is seen exiting and backing out of his vehicle with his hands by his side, but no gun is distinguishable.
According to the Charlotte- Mecklenburg Police Department’s official report, Scott did not respond to the officers’ “clear, loud and repeated verbal commands” to drop his handgun. Vinson “perceived Mr. Scott’s actions and movements as an imminent physical threat to himself and the other officers” and began to shoot.
Police Chief Kerr Putney insists that Scott was armed, while Scott’s family insists that he never owned a firearm. Crime scene investigators did uncover a loaded gun with Scott’s fingerprints at the scene. Police released a photo of the gun and Scott’s ankle holster, yet have not said from where the weapon was recovered.
Critics question why the officers approached Scott if he was armed in the open-carry state and have even accused the officers of planting a gun.
The officers are also receiving criticism for overreacting to the situation.
“It seems there were multiple opportunities to do this in a de-escalating way, and it seems like everything they did in response was escalating,” Mark Dorosin, managing lawyer at the University of North Carolina Center for Civil Rights said. “I think there’s an argument to be made that they exceeded their authority.”
Scott’s death caused an uproar in the community as protesters and rioters took to the streets of Charlotte. A civilian was shot by someone from the crowd on Sept. 21.
The city’s Twitter account stated the injured civilian was in critical condition, but since Wednesday night no new information has been released. Gov. Pat McCrory declared a State of Emergency for the city.
As protests continue into this week, the city of Charlotte has lifted the state of emergency on Sept. 27 as demonstrations have become mostly peaceful.