CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Charlotte police released dramatic video footage Saturday that shows officers surrounding a black man with his hands at his side before shots are fired and he buckles to the ground. It’s unclear if there was anything in the man’s hands.
The footage of the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott was released after several days of demonstrations that coalesced around demands that the public see the video. Police said Scott had a gun, though residents have said he was unarmed.
In the police dashboard camera video released Saturday night, Scott could be seen backing away from his SUV with his hands down, and it’s unclear if there’s anything in his hands. Four shots are heard, and he falls to the ground.
Police also released photos of a gun that they said was retrieved at the scene, adding that it contained Scott’s DNA and fingerprints. They said the gun was loaded and Scott was wearing an ankle holster. They also said Scott also had marijuana.
Video recorded by Keith Lamont Scott’s wife and provided by her attorney shows her repeatedly telling officers her husband is not armed and pleading with them not to shoot him. Warning: Graphic content. (Sept. 23)
Videos from the dashboard camera and the body camera also show events leading up to the shooting.
The dashboard camera footage starts with two officers pointing their guns at Scott, who is inside the SUV with the doors closed and windows rolled up. Scott gets out and starts walking backward before shots are fired.
From a different angle, police body camera footage shows an officer approach with his gun drawn and another officer already pointing his gun at Scott. When Scott comes into view, he has his hands at his side and is standing outside of his SUV. The body camera footage doesn’t show the moment the shots are fired, and Scott next comes into view already on the ground.
Before releasing the footage, Chief Kerr Putney said at a news conference that he received assurances from the State Bureau of Investigation that letting the public see the video would not impact the state’s independent probe of the shooting.
Asked whether he expected the footage to calm protesters, Putney responded: “The footage itself will not create in anyone’s mind absolute certainty as to what this case represents and what the outcome should be. The footage only supports all of the other information” such as physical evidence and statements from witnesses and officers.
At his news conference, Putney said that his officers didn’t break the law but noted that the state is continuing its investigation.
“Officers are absolutely not being charged by me at this point, but again, there’s another investigation ongoing,” he said.
Putney said that Scott was “absolutely in possession of a handgun,” and that officers also saw marijuana in his car — prompting them to act.
Amid anxiety and unease over the shooting of Scott, demonstrations in Charlotte have gone from violent to peaceful, although demands to see the police video remained a chief concern of protesters.
Before the release of the video, hundreds massed outside at the Charlotte police department building on Saturday afternoon chanting the name “Keith Scott.” They also chanted, “No tapes, no peace” and raised signs including one reading “Stop Killing The Black People.”
The city has been on edge ever since Scott’s shooting death. The demonstrations reached a violent crescendo on Wednesday before the National Guard was called in a day later to maintain order.
The next two nights of protests were free of property damage and violence, with organizers stressing a message of peace at the end of the week.
Charlotte is the latest U.S. city to be shaken by protests and recriminations over the death of a black man at the hands of police, a list that includes Baltimore, Milwaukee, Chicago, New York and Ferguson, Missouri.
Earlier in the week, the Charlotte protests turned violent, with demonstrators attacking reporters and others, setting fires and smashing windows of hotels, office buildings and restaurants.
Forty-four people were arrested after Wednesday’s protests, and one protester who was shot died at a hospital Thursday. City officials said police did not shoot 26-year-old Justin Carr. A suspect was arrested, but police provided few details.