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Scott family attorney hopes to reach agreement with city, avoid trial

A still photo taken from police dashboard video released by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Saturday shows Keith Scott did not have his hands up when a Charlotte Police officer had his gun drawn on him. He was shot seconds after this moment.
A still photo taken from police dashboard video released by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Saturday shows Keith Scott did not have his hands up when a Charlotte Police officer had his gun drawn on him. He was shot seconds after this moment. Charlotte Observer

An attorney for Keith Lamont Scott’s family told a South Carolina TV station he hopes to reach an agreement with the city of Charlotte and avoid a trial over the fatal police shooting of Scott.

An autopsy commissioned by the family suggests problems with the “tactical approach” Charlotte Mecklenburg Police used in the seconds leading up to the fatal shooting, attorney Justin Bamberg told WIS TV in Columbia.

Bamberg questioned police directives to Scott when he was sitting in his car. Bamberg’s comments suggest tactics the family may use in negotiations with the city over a potential wrongful death lawsuit in the case.

The city paid $2.25 million last year to settle a similar case with the family of Jonathan Ferrell, an African American man who was shot and killed by a Charlotte police officer in 2013.

Scott was black, as is the officer who shot him, Bentley Vinson.

CMPD said Vinson shot Scott because he was armed with a gun and refused to follow multiple police warnings and commands. The Sept. 20 incident, which occurred in a northeast Charlotte parking lot, sparked a week of sometimes violent protests.

Activists say Scott’s death is an example of police brutality against African Americans.

“When you look at what occurred, there were problems with their tactical approach,” Bamberg told WIS. “There were problems with their directives. You know everybody talks about them saying ‘drop the gun’ approximately 12 times, well the bulk of that is while he was sitting inside of his vehicle.”

When Scott was shot, his hands were down, he added.

Family members and their attorneys have appeared frequently in the media this week, including a CBS interview with Scott’s widow, Rakeyia Scott. She says police aren’t telling the truth when they say a black officer shot her husband. She, too, has questioned the scenario that her husband had a gun.

Police say they found a gun at the scene, which was later shown to have been stolen.

Scott’s widow told CBS that race was “100 percent” the cause of her husband’s death, but stopped short of saying one of the white police officers on the scene fired the fatal shot.

The couple’s 20-year marriage was troubled at times, including a restraining order she filed against him and accusations he was violent and pulled a gun on her. Rakeyia Scott has denied his violent past contributed to choices Scott made in the seconds before he was killed.

Instead, she says he was likely confused due to taking medication.

Said Bamberg: “Mrs. Scott will tell you there is a past there and they did have some very rough times... At the end of the day, regardless of the past or what happened, the question is whether that shooting was justified – not if Mr. Scott was a good husband. Regardless of how this plays out, at the end of the day his wife and his seven children deserve to know how their loved one died and what exactly happened to him."

Funeral services for Keith Scott were held held Friday near Charleston.

WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released the full-length dash camera video of the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. Scott's family asked the police to release the video to the public.

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