Rakeyia Scott(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, released some of the department’s tapes of the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, which has sparked days of protests across the city.
Police Chief Kerr Putney announced the release at a news conference Saturday, saying that other footage will come later.
In the dash cam video Scott is seen exiting his car, he then walks backwards with his hands before four shots are heard. It is unclear whether there is anything in his hands.
The actual shooting is neither seen nor heard in the body cam footage.
Officer Brentley Vinson, identified by police as the officer who shot Scott, cannot be seen firing his weapon in either video.
The chief says the tapes show that Scott was “absolutely” in possession of a handgun and will offer “indisputable evidence” of the department’s account, and he said that at this point, he the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department will not be charging any officer in the shooting. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is also investigating the case.
Putney said officers were conducting surveillance related to a warrant they intended to serve on someone else, but their attention was drawn to Scott. They saw marijuana and a weapon in Scott’s car and said believed, “this is a safety issue for us and the public,” the police chief said.
He said Scott was shot after he did not follow police commands to drop his weapon.
“At every encounter, people can make a decision to follow loud, verbal commands. They (officers) were reacting to what they saw and they have a duty to do so,” Putney said.
He added that he believes the footage can now be released without jeopardizing the investigation.
The police announcement came after hundreds of people gathered in Charlotte’s Marshall Park demanding the release of the police video footage, marching peacefully under the hot sun in, chanting and holding signs that said “Release the Tape.”
Calls to release the footage had intensified after Scott’s family released cell phone video of the moments leading up to and after the shooting Tuesday.
A woman identified as Scott’s wife, Rakeyia Scott, recorded the incident with her phone and the video was provided to ABC News on Friday by attorneys for the Scott family. In the video, Rakeyia Scott can be heard pleading with police to not shoot her husband, a 43-year-old black man, as officers order the man to “drop the gun.” As the encounter continues, the woman yells back at police, insisting her husband is harmless and doesn’t have a weapon.
“He doesn’t have a gun,” she says. “He has a T.B.I. [traumatic brain injury]. He’s not going to do anything to you guys. He just took his medicine.”
Police repeatedly scream at Keith Lamont Scott to “drop the gun” and, moments later, multiple gunshots ring out. The actual shooting is not shown on the video as Rakeyia Scott points her cellphone at the ground and screams, “Did you shoot him?” She then runs closer to the scene, angling the cellphone camera this time at the spot where her husband was shot. Scott’s body is seen lying in the street surrounded by several officers.
The cellphone video is the first footage of Scott’s deadly encounter with police to be publicly released. One of the attorneys representing the Scott family, Charles G. Monnett, said they released the video “in the name of truth and transparency.”
“The family is still hopeful that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and city of Charlotte will release all available video of the incident to the public so that people can draw their own conclusions about Keith’s death,” Monnett said. “We encourage everyone to reserve judgment until all the facts are known. This is simply one step in our quest to find the truth for this family.”
During the rally Saturday in Charlotte, activists and religious leaders joined protesters’ calls for investigators to release the videos. Corine Mack, president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP, told the crowd amid cheers that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had launched an investigation into the case.
“As of today, there is an official investigation from the DOJ,” Mack said. “That investigation is a preliminary investigation right now.”
The DOJ’s Community Relations Service has said it is “is working to maintain open lines of communication and ease tension in Charlotte,” but the department has not yet decided whether to open an investigation. The DOJ did not immediately reply to ABC News’ request for comment on Mack’s statement.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said its officers were searching for a suspect who had an outstanding warrant when they encountered Scott in a vehicle outside an apartment complex around 4 p.m. Tuesday. Police said Scott was not the suspect that officers sought but that he was holding a handgun, which investigators recovered from the scene, and posed a threat because he was not obeying police orders to remain inside his car and drop the weapon.
An officer subsequently fired his gun, striking Scott, who police said was treated immediately and later pronounced dead.
Vinson, who has been employed with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department since July 21, 2014, and is currently assigned to the metro division. He has been placed on paid administrative leave while the investigation into Scott’s death is ongoing, according to Putney.
Vinson, who is black, was not wearing a body camera at the time, but the other officers who responded to the incident were, police said. A dashboard camera also recorded the incident. Police have not publicly released any footage but Scott’s family have reviewed the video that shows the moment when police fatally shot the man, the family’s attorney told ABC News on Thursday.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said the videos show Scott with a gun in his hand during his interaction with police officers, who gave “loud, clear, verbal commands,” before he was shot and killed. However, Putney admitted that the footage he reviewed does not provide “definitive visual evidence that would confirm that a person is pointing a gun.” The police chief also said the video evidence alone does not establish whether the shooting was justified.
Scott’s family, however, maintains he was not holding a gun and he was just waiting for his son to be dropped off from school. Justin Bamberg, a lawyer representing Scott’s family, said in a statement Thursday that it’s “impossible” to detect from the police footage what Scott is holding and at no point did Scott appear or act aggressively.
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