A cellphone video shot by Rakeyia Scott, wife of the man killed by a Charlotte police officer Tuesday, does not appear to show a gun on the ground near her husband in the seconds after the shooting, though it could be covered by an officer’s foot.
Scott was bringing a cellphone charger to her husband, Keith Lamont Scott, who was parked in his truck outside their apartment at The Village at College Downs complex, when she saw police near him, her attorneys told The New York Times on Friday.
She used the phone to make a video of the confrontation, which her attorneys shared Friday. In it, police can be heard at least seven times shouting “Drop the gun!” as she pleads with officers not to shoot him.
Four shots are heard in rapid succession, and Rakeyia Scott advances on the scene. Eighteen seconds after the shots, her husband’s body becomes visible on the ground with four officers over him.
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In the video, there appears to be nothing at the victim’s feet, but a photograph circulated Thursday on social media from a similar angle appeared to show a dark, L-shaped object a few feet from the soles of his shoes.
It could not be determined who took the image or precisely when the photograph was taken, but enough time had elapsed after Rakeyia Scott’s video ends for police to rope off the area with crime-scene tape, but medics had not yet arrived.
In the photograph, some of Scott’s clothing appeared to have been removed. It is not known whether that was a result of life-saving efforts or an effort to search him for weapons.
But the video does not show the moment Scott fell. When his wife gets in view of his body at about the one-minute mark, what looks like a black object appears briefly near a police officer in a red shirt, who has his foot over the spot five seconds later. He stands with his left foot anchored on the pavement in the area where the photograph showed the pistol.
It cannot be determined from the video whether his foot is on the object, but his foot does not move for the rest of the video while other officers at the scene are in motion.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney told The Charlotte Observer in an interview Thursday that the department, which monitors social media, got the photograph after the shooting and it appeared to be a genuine, undoctored image.
“We were lucky enough to get a photo that helps us add context,” Putney said. “We believe it to be authentic.”
Police have said that a gun was recovered at the scene of the shooting, but have not said where it was found. Scott’s family has said that he didn’t own a gun, but WBTV, the Observer’s partner, quoted police sources as saying Friday that Scott’s DNA and blood were found on the loaded weapon recovered at the scene.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said it could not comment on the contents of the Scott video because of the State Bureau of Investigation inquiry into the shooting.
Attorneys representing the Scott family – Eduardo Curry, Justin Bamberg and Charles Monnett of Charleston – called upon authorities again Friday to release police videos of the shooting.
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said Friday that police dashboard and body cam videos of the shooting could not be released because of the SBI probe.
“I respect the investigative process and I want to ensure the integrity of the independent investigation of the State Bureau of Investigation,” Roberts said in a statement.
“I urge it to use every resource at its disposal to get this done and release the information to the public as quickly as possible.”
Late Friday, the SBI issued a statement that left the decision with Charlotte leaders and hinted that the release is under consideration.
“CMPD remains the custodian of the original recording and as such has the legal authority to release it,” the agency said. “It is understood discussions are actively underway between local officials regarding the release of that video.”
Expert analysis needed
Geoffrey Alpert, a professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina, said he has seen the still photograph of the victim. He believes it shows a handgun near the victim’s body.
He said an expert would need to examine the cellphone video in detail to determine whether or not there is a gun on the ground.
But he said it’s “concerning” if it appears there is no handgun in the video.
Neighbors at the apartment complex who witnessed the aftermath of the shooting said Friday they didn’t remember seeing a weapon near Scott’s body.
Fostoria Robinson said she was in her apartment Tuesday afternoon when she heard gunshots. From about 150 feet away, she said, she saw Scott falling to the pavement. She saw nothing in his hand, she said.
Kendall Reynolds said he also went to check what was happening after he heard gunshots. He said he saw Scott convulsing on the ground. But he saw no gun near him.
“I was looking for one,” Reynolds said.