Keith Lamont Scott shooting: Charlotte police say he was holding a gun when shot
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Charlotte officials are attempting to “change the narrative” after violent protests in the city following the shooting death of a black man at the hands of police officers.
At a news conference in reaction to official statements, regional civil rights leaders speaking on behalf of the family said the narrative is right, and police killed an innocent man.
Kerr Putney, chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, said at a press conference Wednesday morning that Keith Lamont Scott, 43, had a gun in his hand when he was shot by police officers. A family member has claimed he was unarmed and reading a book when officers first approached him.
“I can tell you a weapon was seized,” Putney said. “I can tell you we did not find a book.”
Putney said there is video of the incident, but he had not viewed all of it, and was basing his assessment on witness and police statements.
On Tuesday, Putney said officers were executing a search for a man with outstanding warrants when they witnessed Scott get into a car with a handgun. Scott was not the man they were looking for, but police engaged him when he then got out of and back into the car with the gun, Putney said.
Officers approached Scott and gave him multiple warnings to drop the weapon, Putney said. Scott then attempted to get out of the vehicle with the gun in his hand, which is when he was shot by Officer Brentley Vinson, who is black and has been placed on administrative leave, as is standard procedure in such cases. Vinson has been with the department for two years.
CBS Charlotte affiliate WBTV reports Vinson is a second-generation police officer in Charlotte.
Putney said officers called for medical help immediately after the shooting. He said he hoped a thorough explanation of the shooting will help calm the unrest in the city.
“It’s time to change the narrative,” Putney said Wednesday. “The story is a little bit different than it’s been portrayed so far.”
Putney may have been speaking in response to a woman claiming to be Scott’s daughter, who streamed the aftermath of the shooting live on Facebook, saying, “The police just shot my daddy four times for being black.”
The video has already been viewed more than half a million times and shows frustration building from members of the community, looking for answers.
“A life has been lost today, a life was taken and y’all want to block everybody out!” one community member said in a Facebook video.
Scott’s sister said he was unarmed and was reading a book while waiting for his son to get off the school bus, when police approached him.
“They jumped out their truck. They said, ‘Hands up! He got a gun! He got a gun!’ Pow, pow, pow, pow,” she said. “That’s it. He had no gun.”
At a news conference following the press availability of Charlotte officials, John C. Barnett, a civil rights activist who said he was speaking on behalf of the family, said Scott was just waiting at the bus stop for his kid when officers approached him.
Barnett and other civil rights leaders said that while they don’t encourage violent protests, they understood why people in Charlotte are on edge. He cited as an example the shooting of Jonathan Farrell, an unarmed former college football player shot 12 times by police in Charlotte after he left his wrecked car seeking help from a nearby home.
Barnett said the Scott shooting was part of a larger pattern of injustice.
An outspoken leader of the Nation of Islam, B.J. Murphy, called for an economic boycott of Charlotte at the press conference over the Scott shooting.
Murphy said that if black lives don’t matter, black money shouldn’t matter.
Court records indicate that Scott had a criminal record including an assault conviction.
Mecklenburg County records matching Keith Lamont Scott’s name and birth date show Scott was charged in April 2004 with multiple counts, including felony assault with a deadly weapon. Records show that most of the charges were dismissed, and he pleaded guilty to a single charge of misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon.
Records from nearby Gaston County show that Scott pleaded guilty to driving while impaired in 2015.
A woman who identified herself as an advocate for Scott’s family, Annette Albright, said at a news conference that he shouldn’t be “re-victimized” because of things he did in the past.
She told reporters: “What he was doing at the time of the shooting is what’s relevant.”
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