A decision is expected to be announced Wednesday morning on whether to charge a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer in the September shooting death of a University City man, a confrontation that sparked two nights of riots.
Keith Lamont Scott, 43, was shot by officer Brentley Vinson on Sept. 20 when Scott stepped from his parked SUV outside his apartment with a gun and ignored police commands to drop it.
Charlotte attorney Charles Monnett and Scott’s wife, Rakeyia Scott, were scheduled for a morning meeting with members of the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office, which makes the decision whether to prosecute the officer. It is routine for prosecutors to meet with family members before making a public announcement of their decision in such cases. A 10:30 a.m. press conference is scheduled at the District Attorney’s officer.
“Mrs. Scott is looking forward to finally receiving answers to the many questions that she has,” Monnett said Wednesday morning.
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CMPD officers have been put on alert and will work 12-hour shifts beginning Wednesday in case violent demonstrations occur when the decision is made known.
District Attorney Andrew Murray along with Bill Stetzer, the head of Murray’s homicide team, are expected to play key roles in the decision.
Scott, 43, was shot three times during a standoff with police near his home off Old Concord Road in north Charlotte. Police say Vinson opened fire after Scott refused multiple police orders to drop his gun. Autopsies show that he was hit in the stomach, back and arm. Both Vinson and Scott are African-American.
Police say they were in the parking lot of Scott’s apartment complex searching for an unrelated suspect when they saw Scott in his car with marijuana and a handgun.
Scott’s wife, who witnessed the shooting, says her husband was unarmed and waiting for his son’s return from school. She said he had just taken medication for a recent head injury that made it difficult for him to communicate.
The shooting drew a crowd of protestors to the scene, and violence erupted overnight and continued into the early morning. It spread to uptown on Sept. 21, where bystanders and police were both injured, one man was fatally shot, and more than 100 people were arrested.
Police Chief Kerr Putney has said the shooting was justified and that Scott presented an imminent threat of death or serious injury to officers. Protesters say Scott was gunned down during a confrontation that police brought about.
Criminal charges against police officers related to on-duty shootings are rare. In 2013, Officer Wes Kerrick was arrested and charged with voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed African-American.
His 2015 trial ended with a deadlocked jury that had voted 8-4 for acquittal. The resulting mistrial set off demonstrations throughout the night, but they never reached the size or violence that followed Scott’s death.
Monnett was the lawyer for the Ferrell family in its lawsuit over the shooting, which the city settled before the trial for a record $2.25 million.