The ACLU is calling on Charlotte police to release all the remaining video footage of the events surrounding the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott last week.
On Saturday, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department released portions of the video footage — captured by a dashboard camera and a body camera — showing the moments immediately before and after the Sept. 20 shooting.
But the department withheld some footage, “leaving many questions still unanswered,” the ACLU of North Carolina said in a statement Monday.
“The videos released this weekend raise a host of questions about why police shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, and whether, in doing so, the officers involved violated state or federal law, in addition to failing to follow the department’s own rules regarding the use of deadly force, de-escalation, when to wear and activate body cameras, and more,” said Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina.
CMPD spokesman Robert Tufano said the department has released all the available footage of the shooting and the events leading up to it. But there may be additional footage from officers who pulled up to the scene after the shooting, Tufano said.
The public and Mr. Scott’s family deserve to see and hear all available information about whether something was in his hand and why a man who was suspected of no crime, other than the newly disclosed accusation that he possessed a minor amount of marijuana, is now dead. – Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina
Related Story: Keith Lamont Scott Threatened His Wife With A Gun Last Year
A new state law will soon prevent police agencies from releasing body camera footage to the public without a court order. But open government advocates and the ACLU note that the law does not go into effect until Oct. 1.
“The public and Mr. Scott’s family deserve to see and hear all available information about whether something was in his hand and why a man who was suspected of no crime, other than the newly disclosed accusation that he possessed a minor amount of marijuana, is now dead,” Birdsong said.
The ACLU called on police to “stop releasing information to the public on a piecemeal basis and to disclose all remaining body and dash camera footage, as well as audio of dispatch recordings, of the moments before and after Mr. Scott was killed.”
The Observer has also requested those videos and recordings.
Chief: Officers acted appropriately
Police officers say they saw Scott armed with a handgun when he exited his vehicle at a University City apartment complex. Charlotte police have released photos of the gun they say was recovered from the scene, and they say Scott’s fingerprints, DNA and blood were on the gun.
Scott’s family members, however, have said they believe Scott was unarmed. Lawyers for the family said the available videos do not clearly identify what, if anything, Scott had in his hands.
The video footage released Saturday shows the 43-year-old African-American man taking four steps slowly backward with his arms at his sides when he is hit in a burst of four gunshots from police. Scott then falls to the pavement.
From neither vantage point — a police dashboard camera and a body camera worn by one of the officers on the scene — can it be determined whether Scott is holding a gun.
But police can be heard repeatedly shouting “Drop the gun!” at the 43-year-old Scott, who died from his wounds Tuesday as his wife stood nearby.
Brentley Vinson, the African-American police officer who police say fired four shots at Scott, was not wearing a body cam, so his visual perspective was not part of the footage. Putney said that body cameras are being rolled out across the department and not all tactical officers have them yet.
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney has said he has found nothing to indicate that Vinson acted inappropriately, given the totality of the circumstances, and he does not think his officers broke the law that day. They were, he said, reacting to what appeared to be an imminent threat.
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