It’s been more than two months since Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by police when he exited his vehicle in front of some officers while holding a Colt .380 semiautomatic handgun. (He’d also been smoking a “blunt” in his car and was additionally on medication for a recent head wound according to his wife.) There were riots for several nights demanding justice, but it took this long for the investigation to lead to a decision as to whether or not officer Brentley Vinson would be charged with a crime for his role in the shooting. (For what it’s worth, both Scott and Vinson are black. That shouldn’t be a factor, but everyone always seems to focus on race in these situations.)
From the moment the Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray launched into his televised presentation this morning I could tell how it was going to go. If they were going to prosecute he would have given some sort of a tell early on. Instead he opened up with declarations of how thoroughly they had investigated the shooting and how closely they had worked with the family. He then launched into an hour long review of all the evidence of the case including multiple videos and photographs from various locations establishing that Scott had a gun in an ankle holster and that the holster was empty when he exited the vehicle.
He also reviewed the testimony from a number of “witnesses” (including Scott’s wife) and proceeded to demonstrate how the information they put out on social media, spurring the riots, was not only false, but the situations being described were, in fact, physically impossible in some cases and highly implausible at best in others. With all of that as prologue it was obvious that they were not going to choose to prosecute officer Brentley Vinson. The conclusion was that Vinson’s actions were lawful and there would be no charges filed. (NBC News)
An officer who fatally shot a black man in North Carolina in September, prompting days of violent protests, will not be charged in his death, a prosecutor announced Wednesday.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Brentley Vinson, who is also black, shot Keith Lamont Scott, 43, in a parking lot as officers were preparing to serve an arrest warrant against someone else. Vinson has said he saw Scott rolling a marijuana joint and holding a gun, and fired at him out of concern for public safety.
Scott’s family maintains he wasn’t holding the gun at the time of the shooting. Police say evidence indicates otherwise.
The Charlotte Observer posted a good roundup of the case in advance of the announcement including videos and testimony which were being reviewed throughout the decision making process. They note that the police department was careful to speak with the family in advance of the public announcement of their decision and to answer any questions they might have.
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.
Here’s the video of the fateful day in case you missed it previously.
I understand why there was so much unrest surrounding this case because the video evidence offered to the public was missing key elements which could have made it so much more open and shut. When they first released it, even I confessed that I’d had moments of doubt. But the DA did a very professional job of tying the rest of the evidence together in a way which leaves little doubt that the officer acted correctly and lawfully.
The only thing we’re waiting for now is the aftermath in the public. There has been so much false information put out on social media about this shooting that it will be amazing if the District Attorney was able to correct the record sufficiently to avoid more riots. He even closed his remarks by noting that there was going to be “discontent” with their findings, but he hoped that all bias was eliminated from their review and that the community would “take a breath” and pause to read the report before reacting.
Bottom line: if you pull a gun in front of a bunch of cops and don’t follow their instructions to drop it, bad things are going to happen.