The armed Charlotte, N.C., man who was shot and killed by a police officer ignored multiple warnings to drop his weapon and posed “a threat” to officers, police officials said Wednesday.
Police Chief Kerr Putney offered few new details about the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott the morning after his death sparked protests that left 16 officers injured.
Scott, 43, was shot and killed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Brentley Vinson Tuesday afternoon as officers were en route to serve a warrant to someone who lived at The Village at College Downs apartment complex in Charlotte's University City neighborhood.
According to Putney, Scott stepped out of his car near the apartment complex armed with a handgun. North Carolina is an open carry state, which means residents can carry firearms openly in public without a permit or license. Police have not yet revealed whether the gun Scott was carrying was legally obtained.
Police say that Scott, who is black, got back in the car as officers approached, but ignored “loud, clear verbal commands” to drop his weapon.
Scott exited the car again and still held onto the gun as officers kept yelling to him. Vinson, who was in plainclothes, fired after police determined he was “posing a threat,” Putney said.
Putney did not say how many times Vinson fired at Scott, and said he has not determined if Scott pointed his gun at the officers. It is also unclear if Scott said anything to the officers.
Vinson was not wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting but other officers on the scene were, Putney said. A police source told WSOC-TV that an unreleased dash cam video confirms that Scott had a gun in his hand when he got out of his car and was coming toward officers before he was shot.
The station later posted a picture of what appeared to be the weapon on the ground after the shooting.
The American Civil Liberties Union called for the immediate release of any police video that captured the shooting, citing a new North Carolina law, HB 972, that will prevent law enforcement from releasing body camera footage without a court order. It doesn't take effect until Oct. 1.
“In the interest of transparency and accountability, and particularly in light of conflicting accounts about the shooting, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department should quickly release any and all footage it has of the events leading up to the shooting, as well as the shooting itself," an ACLU release read. "The department should also explain why the officer who shot Mr. Scott was not wearing a body camera."
Scott's family disputes the police account of the shooting and say that Scott was reading a book waiting for his son to get off the school bus when officers confronted him. A woman who identified herself as Scott's daughter uploaded a Facebook live video, saying "The police just shot my daddy four times for being black."
Putney denied that Scott was reading a book when he was shot, in an attempt to dispel the rumor that started circulating on social media.
“The story’s a little bit different than how it’s been portrayed so far, especially on social media,” he said, adding that they recovered Scott's firearm from the scene.
Vinson, who is also black, was put on administrative leaving pending an investigation into whether the shooting was justified. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that her office is also "assessing" Scott's death.
The 26-year-old officer has been on the force for two years and is the son of a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer, the Charlotte Observer reported. The Charlotte paper also reported that Vinson had no infractions on his record.
The shooting set off fierce protests in Charlotte on Tuesday night, with protesters chucking rocks at cops. Putney said 16 officers were injured, and at least one protester was arrested.
He said the protesters turned into “aggressive agitators who began to break the law.”
The city of Charlotte said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon that the "officer-involved shooting and the ensuing events have been very difficult for our community."
"It is important that we continue our tradition of working together to solve our problems thoughtfully and peacefully," the statement read.
Scott was killed less than a week after another black man, Terence Crutcher, was fatally shot by a Tulsa police officer investigating his idling car in the middle of a street. Crutcher, who was unarmed, was seen on police video with his back to officers and his hands up before getting shot.
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