Two videos released Saturday by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department fail to provide a full picture of just what happened during its officers’ fatal encounter with Keith Lamont Scott.
Police shot and killed Scott, a 43-year-old African American man, on Tuesday, precipitating days of protests across Charlotte.
The first video, shot from an officer’s body camera, does not appear to show the moment of the shooting. It also has no sound until the aftermath of the incident, when Scott is seen lying face-down after being shot.
The second, filmed from a dashboard camera, depicts Scott walking slowly backwards from his car when shots are fired.
Although the police have maintained Scott had a weapon, neither video shows Scott pointing a gun at officers nor raising his hands in the air. In the dash cam footage, Scott’s arms are seen beside his body and it is unclear if he has a weapon in his hand.
The two videos contain scenes some might find distressing:
Police also released images Saturday of the gun and ankle holster they say were in Scott’s possession, and provided further details of the event’s timeline.
In a statement, the police maintain Scott had a gun and was shot after exiting his vehicle and failing to comply with police commands to drop the weapon. “Officer Vinson perceived Mr. Scott’s actions and movements as an imminent physical threat to himself and the other officers. Officer Vinson fired his issued service weapon, striking Mr. Scott,” the department said.
According to the police statement, two plain-clothes officers in an unmarked car were waiting to serve an arrest warrant on another person when Scott parked his SUV beside them. They saw him rolling a “blunt,” but did not consider “Mr. Scott’s drug activity to be a priority at the time.”
When they later spotted him “hold a gun up,” they decided to investigate his possession of a weapon and had “probable cause to arrest him for the drug violation.”
Police maintain they have multiple witnesses confirming “officers gave numerous loud verbal commands for Mr. Scott to drop the weapon,” and that he did not comply with their instructions. They also say lab analysis shows the presence of Scott’s DNA on the gun.
Scott’s family have insisted he had no weapon and was simply reading a book in his car.
The department’s decision to release the two videos come after Scott’s widow, Rakeyia Scott, released a video Friday she recorded on a cellphone during the incident. Aired first on NBC, the two minute-clip shows Keith Lamont Scott lying on the ground surrounded by offices.
Police can be heard yelling “drop the gun,” while Rakeyia Scott is heard telling them Scott has no weapon. She also says he has a “TBI” [traumatic brain injury] and just took his medication.
Charles G. Monnett, an attorney for the Scott family, released a statement saying the family decided to share the footage “in the name of truth and transparency.”
“This is simply one step in our quest to find the truth for this family.”
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said in a statement Saturday she supported the police videos being released to the public.
“I want the citizens of Charlotte to view the video to see the incident for themselves,” she said. “Transparency and accountability are critical in this process.”