Keith Lamont Scott’s widow told CBS News that she doesn’t believe a black police officer killed her husband, contradicting a scenario presented by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department investigators of the shooting that took place last month in a University City parking lot.
Rakeyia Scott told “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King in an interview that aired Wednesday and Thursday that race played a “100 percent role” in the death of her husband, who is African-American. Scott stopped short of accusing one of the white officers on the scene of shooting her husband.
Investigators say Scott, 43, had a gun and was refusing to follow police commands in the seconds before his shooting by Officer Brentley Vinson, who is also African-America.
“Officer Vinson I don’t believe shot my husband,” Rakeyia Scott said. “Because of the positioning when the shooting actually occurred. … I did see him, but he was at a distance. He’s not a part of the interaction.”
When asked what CMPD had to gain by saying a black officer shot her husband, Scott responded: “I’m not sure what they have to gain. I’m just going by what I recall and believe that day.”
Scott was fatally shot Sept. 20 in the parking lot of The Village at College Downs apartment complex on Old Concord Road in northeast Charlotte.
Activists around the nation have called Scott’s death the latest example of police brutality against African-Americans. Such accusations were made repeatedly during a week of violent protests that occurred in Charlotte following Scott’s death. The violence included looting, vandalism and the fatal shooting of one protester by another man outside an uptown hotel.
Rakeyia Scott disputes that her husband had a gun at the time of his death, something supporters of the family have maintained. Supporters posted on social media sites that he was carrying a book, but no book was found at the scene, police said.
“No gun,” Rakeyia Scott said, when asked if she saw the gun police alluded to in their report. “He had no gun. He was not a threat.”
She speculates her husband was not following police commands because he was “confused,” having just taken as many as 11 different medications for ailments that include a traumatic brain injury. “He takes them and you have to give it time to kick in. If you start a conversation with him, he’s not going to remember the conversation. You have to wait for the medicine to kick in.”
Keith Lamont Scott’s violent past is among the issues raised since the shooting took place, including the fact that his wife had taken out a restraining order against him. She had also claimed he pulled a gun on her and had been violent during their marriage.
“All of it is correct,” she told King. “But that’s my marriage. I don’t expect anyone to understand our marriage.”
A private autopsy commissioned by the family shows Scott was shot in the left side of his back, left abdomen and left wrist.
“The cause of death is two, penetrating, indeterminate range gunshot wounds to the back and abdomen,” wrote two forensic pathologists who performed the autopsy Sept. 30 at the Newberry County (S.C.) Memorial Hospital morgue.
Based on the autopsy and video from the scene, the shot to his back was most likely the first to hit Scott, Charles Monnett, a lawyer for Scott’s family, told the Observer. The bullet penetrated his lungs and aorta, Monnett said.
The second shot, to Scott’s abdomen, struck his spinal cord and paralyzed him, Monnett said.
Scott’s family says it was forced to conduct the independent autopsy because the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s Office refused to release “even the most basic information about his wounds or cause of his death.”
The autopsy results leave the family with the same question they’ve had all along, said Monnett: “Was deadly force necessary?”
Scott’s family authorized Wednesday’s release of the private autopsy because, “as they have maintained from the very beginning, they are simply seeking transparency,” Monnett said. “We will continue to pursue justice for this family.”
Several days after the shooting, Rakeyia Scott released a cellphone video that she recorded of her husband’s shooting. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released body and dash camera videos after days of mounting public pressure.
During that video, she is clearly heard yelling “Keith, don’t do it” multiple times. The warning was interpreted by some as proof Keith Lamont Scott was poised to take aggressive action against the officers. However, Rakeyia Scott told CBS that she was yelling “don’t do it” at the police, not her husband.
Keith Lamont Scott drew the attention of officers, who were trying to serve an arrest warrant on someone else at the apartments, because they saw him rolling marijuana in his vehicle, police Chief Kerr Putney has said.
Police were going to let it go and continue on their original mission until an officer spotted a weapon in the vehicle, Putney said.
“It was not lawful for him to possess a firearm,” Putney said. “There was a crime he committed, and the gun exacerbated the situation.”
Putney said he has found nothing to indicate that Vinson, who shot Scott, acted inappropriately, given the totality of the circumstances, and he does not think his officers broke the law that day. They were reacting to what appeared to be an imminent threat, he said.
State Bureau of Investigation agents, at the request of Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray, are conducting an independent inquiry into the shooting.
Murray acted after Scott’s family requested the probe. Under state law, he is required to ask the SBI to investigate after a request from the family of a person killed with a firearm by an on-duty officer.