Police body camera footage released on Tuesday shows in graphic detail the final minutes of Keith Lamont Scott’s life after he was shot on Sept. 20 by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer.
The video shows police officers handcuffing Scott and then trying to save his life in the parking lot of his University City apartment complex. Officers in the video said they found three bullet wounds on Scott– on his wrist, abdomen, and on the back of his shoulder.
While a gun is not seen in the footage, one officer is heard telling another to “come watch this gun.”
The body camera video, which lasts 16 minutes and 29 seconds, begins after Scott was shot. Much of it shows officers assessing and then tending to Scott’s wounds, securing the scene and talking to Scott as they knelt beside him.
“Stay with us, bro, stay with us now,” one officer says to Scott.
Six minutes and 45 seconds into the video, an officer says he can still feel Scott breathing. Seconds earlier, Scott’s wife could be heard in the background yelling, “He better be alive!”
In the aftermath of Scott’s death that afternoon, Charlotte was roiled by several nights of protests. After street violence, dozens of arrests and the death of one man in uptown, Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency.
Initially, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney released only portions of police video, arguing it was unethical to show Scott dying.
But Putney reversed course amid pressure to release the remainder of the footage, which totals two hours.
Scott’s family requested that police release the videos after they viewed it, which they did on Tuesday afternoon.
A coalition of media organizations organized by The Charlotte Observer also asked CMPD to make all the footage public. Other media included The News & Observer of Raleigh, the Associated Press, CNN, WBTV, WSOC, WCNC, ABC News and WFAE-FM.
‘Talk to me’
In the body camera footage, Scott is on his stomach with his hands cuffed behind his back. He can be heard moaning throughout the first part of the footage. He doesn’t respond when officers continually ask him for his name as they tend to him.
“What’s your name, big man? Talk to me,” an officer says.
Moments later, the officer says to Scott: “Hey, that’s Medic coming for you, boss. They’re on their way.”
After about 10 minutes, people tending to Scott remove his handcuffs, turn him over and begin CPR.
“It is very difficult to watch,” Justin Bamberg, one of the family’s lawyers, said at a news conference Tuesday night. “What you’re seeing is real life. There are real-life consequences to the decision an officer makes to pull the trigger.”
Was Scott armed?
Bamberg said while an officer in the footage says a gun is at the scene, Scott’s family continues to contest that.
Bamberg said the new video does not show a gun.
“My belief is if it was in that section near his body, you would have seen it,” Bamberg said. “We still don’t know. This video does not shine any light on whether a firearm was in his possession or where it was found.”
Video footage released two weeks ago shows Scott taking four steps slowly backward with his arms at his sides when he is hit in a burst of four gunshots from police, then crumples to the pavement.
From neither vantage point – a police dashboard camera and a body camera worn by one of the officers on the scene – can it be determined whether Scott is holding a gun.
“Did he engage in some sort of conduct that would constitute aggravated aggression that the officer feared his life was in danger?” asked Charles Monnett, another lawyer for Scott’s family. “There’s nothing on these videos that a reasonable person (would conclude) that Keith Scott was trying to harm the officers.”
Putney said that Scott drew the attention of officers who were trying to serve an arrest warrant on an unrelated suspect at the Village at College Downs apartments because they saw him rolling marijuana in his vehicle.
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 Officer Brentley 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, he said, reacting to what appeared to be an imminent threat.
State Bureau of Investigation agents, at the behest of Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray, has begun an independent inquiry into the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
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.