Family Of Man Fatally Shot By Charlotte Police Say He Was Unarmed

The family of the black man fatally shot by police in Charlotte, North Carolina on Tuesday afternoon say he was unarmed at the time of his death, disputing the account provided by law enforcement.

In a live-streamed Facebook video shot on Tuesday and viewed by reporters from the Charlotte Observer, a young woman who said she was the daughter of Keith Lamont Scott said that her father had been sitting in his car reading a book and waiting for the school bus to drop off his son. In the video, which was viewed over 521,000 times before being taken down, the woman said her father was disabled and did not antagonize police officers.

The woman’s video was referenced by protesters who marched through the streets of Charlotte on Tuesday night, some of whom carried signs reading “It was a book,” according to reporters on the scene.

“He sits in the shade, reads his book, does his studies, and waits on his kid to get off the bus,” another woman who said she was Scott’s sister said in a separate video recorded by WBTV’s Sarah-Blake Morgan. “He didn’t have no gun. He wasn’t messing with nobody. All they did, them ‘jumpout boys,’ them undercover detectives, they jumped out their truck, they said, ‘Hands up he got a gun, he got a gun, pow pow pow pow.’ That’s it.”

Scott was shot in the parking lot outside of a University City apartment complex by a black officer named Brentley Vinson.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney said that officers repeatedly told Scott to drop his weapon before he was shot. Putney said that a gun was recovered at the scene and that no book was found.

“I can tell you we did not find a book that has been referenced to,” Putney said. “We did find a weapon. The weapon was there and witnesses have corroborated it, beyond just the officers.”

The Charlotte Police Department has not said whether Scott was allegedly pointing a gun at the officer when he was shot.

According to the police account, officers arrived at the apartment complex in search of a different suspect with an outstanding warrant when they saw Scott enter and exit his car with a gun. The police allege that Scott exited the car with a weapon again as officers approached his vehicle, prompting Vinson to deem him a threat and open fire.

Putney said that the department is reviewing video from the scene and that Vinson was not wearing a camera during the incident. Vinson, who has been placed on administrative leave, was in plain clothes but accompanied by uniformed officers when approaching Scott.

Scott’s death sparked mass protests in Charlotte that eventually turned violent and resulted in the injury of 16 police officers. Several fires broke out and at least three semi-trucks were stopped and looted on Interstate 85, according to the Observer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.
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