CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte police released dramatic video footage Saturday that shows officers surrounding a black man with his hands at his side before shots are fired and he buckles to the ground.
Keith Lamont Scott can be seen in police dashboard camera video backing away from his sport-utility vehicle with his hands down. It’s unclear whether there’s anything in the man’s hands. Four shots are heard, and he falls to the ground.
It’s not clear how many times Keith Lamont Scott was hit.
The bodycam and dashboard-camera footage the Charlotte, N.C., police released Saturday of the fatal shooting does not show Scott raising a gun toward officers but shows the sequence of events leading to the shooting.
The dashboard-camera footage starts with two officers pointing their guns at Scott, who is inside the SUV with the doors closed and windows rolled up. Scott gets out and starts walking backward before shots are fired.
His wife can be heard as she yells both at him and at officers.
From a different angle, police body-camera footage shows an officer approach with his gun drawn and another officer already pointing his gun at Scott.
When Scott comes into view, he has his hands at his side and is standing outside of his car.
The body-camera footage doesn’t show the moment the shots are fired, and Scott next comes into view already on the ground.
Audio in the body camera footage can’t be heard until after Scott is on the ground.
Justin Bamberg, an attorney for Scott’s family, said Saturday night that, rather than provide more clarity, the dashcam and body-camera footage leave more questions unanswered. Bamberg also said that Scott’s delay in getting out of his vehicle doesn’t justify his death.
Officers have said Scott pointed a gun at them and refused to drop it, and on Saturday they released photographs of a weapon they said was recovered from the scene.
The footage was released after days of demonstrations demanding the release of the video.
The material released Saturday includes photos of a handgun and marijuana the police say Scott possessed.
Before releasing the footage, Chief Kerr Putney said at a news conference he received assurances from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation that letting the public see the video would not affect its independent probe of the shooting.
Putney said that Scott was “absolutely in possession of a handgun,” even though it’s not seen in his hand in the videos, and that officers also saw marijuana in his car — prompting them to act.
He acknowledged that the videos show no “absolute, definitive visual evidence” that Scott, 43, was holding a gun. But Putney said the video supports other evidence that all must be considered together.
“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 addressed reporters hours after several hundred demonstrators took to the street for a fifth day of protests in Charlotte’s central business district.
Putney said that his officers didn’t break the law but noted that the State Bureau of Investigation is continuing its investigation.
“Officers are absolutely not being charged by me at this point, but, again, there’s another investigation ongoing,” he said.
Asked whether he expected the footage to calm protesters, Putney responded: “The footage itself will not create in anyone’s mind absolute certainty as to what this case represents and what the outcome should be. The footage only supports all of the other information” such as physical evidence and statements from witnesses and officers.
Charlotte police said in an update released late Saturday that two plainclothes officers were preparing to arrest someone else when they saw Scott sitting in the SUV, rolling a marijuana blunt.
Officers say they weren’t concerned about the drugs until they noticed that Scott had a gun with him, according to police. But after an officer “observed Mr. Scott hold a gun up,” police put on marked vests to identify themselves as officers, police said.
The officers say they identified themselves as police and ordered Scott to drop the gun, but he refused. A uniformed officer tried to use a baton to break out a window on Scott’s SUV, according to the police narrative.
Police say the man got out of the SUV, with the gun, and backed away while ignoring the demands to drop it.
Perceiving Scott’s actions as an “imminent physical threat,” Officer Brentley Vinson fired his weapon at Scott, according to the statement.
Like Scott, Vinson is black.
Police say detectives interviewed witnesses, who confirmed that Scott hadn’t complied with officers’ demands.
The report Saturday also says forensic examination shows Scott’s DNA and fingerprints on the loaded gun retrieved from the scene and that Scott was wearing an ankle holster.
Charlotte’s mayor, Jennifer Roberts, said Saturday night that she has asked the U.S. Department of Justice “to be available to address any potential civil rights concerns.”
Amid anxiety and unease over the shooting of Scott, demonstrations in Charlotte have gone from violent to peaceful, although demands to see video of the encounter remained at the forefront of discussions for those taking to the streets.
Many of the hundreds massed outside at the Charlotte police department building on Saturday chanted, “Keith Scott.”
They also chanted, “No tapes, no peace” and raised signs including one reading “Stop Killing The Black People.”
Community organizers have said they expected that protests would continue in some form until the videos were released.
The city has been on edge ever since Scott’s shooting death on Tuesday. The demonstrations reached a violent crescendo on Wednesday before the National Guard was called in a day later to maintain order.
The next two nights of protests were free of property damage and violence, with organizers stressing a message of peace at the end of the week.
Charlotte is the latest U.S. city to be shaken by protests and recriminations over the death of a black man at the hands of police, a list that includes Chicago, Milwaukee, Baltimore, New York and Ferguson, Missouri.