No charges will be filed against the police officer who killed Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sept. 20, Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray said at a press conference Wednesday.
Scott, a 43-year-old black man, was fatally shot by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Brentley Vinson following an encounter with officers, who were pursuing another man when they found Scott waiting for his son to get off the school bus.
“After a thorough review, and given the totality of the circumstances and credible evidence in this case, it is my opinion that Officer Vincent acted lawfully when he shot Mr. Scott,” Murray said.
What happened at the time of the shooting is unclear, with witnesses and the police department offering different accounts. A cell phone video shot by Rakeyia Scott, the deceased’s wife, can be heard yelling “don’t shoot him,” “he doesn’t have a gun” and “he just took his medicine.” Officers appear to disregard her pleas and, after firing shots, they can be seen standing over her husband’s body as she shouts at them to call for help.
Violent and graphic footage from the police dash camera shows an officer firing at Scott as he backs away from his vehicle.
A second video from a body camera shows an officer trying to enter Scott’s vehicle, before the shooting, as well as the moments after Scott was killed. It is unclear if Scott was carrying a gun based on the footage, but the police department released images of a gun it says was recovered from the scene.
Murray reiterated during Wednesday’s press conference that Scott had a gun and that officers told him to drop his weapon “at least 10 times.”
“The videos also show that Mr. Scott did not comply with those commands,” Murray said. “In interviews, an officer described Mr. Scott’s behavior during this incident. Those descriptions included that he had a blank stare as if he was in a trance-like state. This behavior is consistent with the known side effects of medication prescribed to Mr. Scott. Additional side effects are aggression and behavior abnormalities.”
But no evidence or officer statement points to Scott raising the gun, Murray said in response to a reporter’s question.
The family said they were “profoundly disappointed” that Vinson will not face charges.
Scott was hit by at least three bullets in his upper back, abdomen and near his left hand, according to a private autopsy conducted for his family. The autopsy determined that the wounds to his back and abdomen were the fatal shots.
Scott’s death sparked six consecutive nights of protests, including one outside of the Bank of America stadium. At times the demonstrations turned violent: Justin Carr, 24, was shot and killed during a protest.
Gov. Pat McCrory (R) called in the state National Guard and troops to protect buildings, bridges and highways as well as assist with traffic control during the protests.