The dashcam and body cam videos released Saturday neither prove that the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott was justified nor that it was unjustified. They are one batch of evidence that tells us certain things but not others.
The dashcam video shows that Scott was walking backwards with his hands at his side when Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Brentley Vinson fired four shots at him. Scott does not appear to lift his hand, was not aiming a gun at an officer and did not make any abrupt movements. The videos also don’t show a gun on the ground near Scott’s feet, where a highly publicized photo on social media showed it.
The videos do not show conclusively, though, whether Scott had a gun in his hand. CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said he did. The videos leave that question unresolved.
Both sides can claim the videos support their view of the case. Those who think Scott was unjustifiably killed can reasonably say the video shows Scott did not pose an imminent threat to Vinson. Police can reasonably say the totality of the evidence justifies Vinson’s claim that he felt threatened and that the videos do not disprove that.
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Even though the videos were inconclusive, Putney and Mayor Jennifer Roberts were right, if late, to release them. They did so only after claiming that they couldn’t because the videos were in the custody of the State Bureau of Investigation – and the SBI correcting them on that point. Now the public can see, in part, what happened, as it should. Residents on all sides of the issue now need to be patient and let the SBI complete its independent investigation.