Calling Charlotte police officer Brentley Vinson a fine young man, Central Church Pastor Loran Livingston came to the defense of the black 26-year-old former Liberty University football player Tuesday, indicating that he believed the young man was merely performing his duty when he fatally shot 43-year-old Keith Scott.
The shooting, which has ignited an uproar of protests against law enforcement across the nation, was recorded on video, leading many to believe that Scott was unarmed prior to his death.
A good cop … not a bad cop
In an attempt to quell the public outrage against Vinson and the police force, Livingston focused on the Christian officer’s upstanding reputation in the church and in the community.
“This awful tragedy in our city has hit so close to home,” Livingston expressed, according to Time Warner Cable. “The officer involved, who did his sworn duty, is a member of our church, who grew up in our church, and you will not find a finer young man.”
The pastor stressed how Vinson and his family are deeply remorseful about the tragic and unfortunate event that took place earlier this week.
“His parents are here this morning,” Livingston continued. “They are my friends, and for 25 years, they have been a part of this church.”
However, a character witness on the staff of Vinson’s alma mater could not be found.
Because of the sensitive nature of the controversial killing, officials at the evangelical Liberty University – located in Lynchburg, Virginia – were not eager to disseminate any information about their graduate.
“The University has decided that it is not making any statement, releasing any photographs or anything about Mr. Vinson,” explained Liberty University Director of External Communications Len Stevens when asked about the school’s former Christian student and athlete, according to The Christian Post.
A Christian warrior … not a cold-blooded killer
Several years ago, Vinson recounted the pre-police force time he spent attending Liberty University, where he demonstrated fortitude as a fierce competitor of the faith as a football player for three years on the Liberty Flames. While playing football for the university, Vinson and his teammates ran a Bible study group called Gridiron, which was very popular on campus.
“I can honestly say I wouldn’t want to play ball anywhere else,” Vinson expressed during his collegiate days, according to The News & Advance. “And it’s not just football. Spiritually, I wouldn’t be where I am – I wouldn’t know Christ and have a relationship with Christ like I do – if I hadn’t come to Liberty. It’s just a testament to God’s timing.”
Becoming a police officer was no accident for Vinson, who prepared his whole life to protect and serve the community.
“Vinson graduated from Liberty University with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in the spring of 2012, then [he] embarked on a master’s degree in human services to follow the footsteps of his father into law enforcement,” The Christian Post’s Leonardo Blair reports. “His father, Alex – the Advance explained – was the first African-American homicide detective in Charlotte and spent 27 years in that police department as a sergeant. He had dreams of becoming a U.S. Marshall and working as a Charlotte police officer was a step towards that goal.”
Despite outrage over the video-gone-viral that led many to believe that Scott did not have a handgun in his possession at the time of the fatal shooting, North Carolina police maintain that the 43-year-old was carrying a handgun when they approached him on September 20 outside a Charlotte apartment complex, according to a CBS News report. It was also reported that officers repeatedly ordered Scott to drop his weapon, but he was fatally shot by Vinson after he failed to follow the officers’ directives.
Not agreeing with the statement given by police, relatives of Scott claim that their deceased loved one did not have a gun on him. Because of the contradicting claims, the matter is still undecided while it is under investigation.
“Videos released by police and the family provide inconclusive accounts of what happened, and state authorities are currently investigating the case, which has triggered violent protests in the week since the shooting,” Blair informed.
Copyright American Family News. Reprinted with permission.