After watching two police videos, the family of Keith Lamont Scott are left with more questions than answers, and are on Thursday pressing Charlotte-Mecklenberg police to release the footage to the public.
“When told by police to exit his vehicle, Mr. Scott did so in a very calm, nonaggressive manner,” the family’s attorney attorney Justin Bamberg said in a New York Times report.
“While police did give him several commands, he did not aggressively approach them or raise his hands at members of law enforcement at any time.” When an officer opened fire, he added, “Mr. Scott’s hands were by his side, and he was slowly walking backwards.”
"It is impossible to discern from the videos what, if anything, Mr. Scott is holding in his hands," Bamberg told reporters, a claim CMPD police Chief Kerr Putney confirmed.
While dashboard and body camera videos do not confirm Scott was pointing a gun, Putney maintains the “totality of evidence” supports their claim that Scott exited his vehicle with a weapon in tow.
Late Thursday night, TV station helicopters show dozens of people gathered on Interstate 277 trying to stop cars driving on the downtown highway loop around Charlotte. Disregarding a midnight curfew imposed by the city’s mayor, angry protesters gathered demanding law enforcement release the footage.
Although detectives claim to have found a firearm at the crime scene, Scott’s family maintains he was not armed. Instead they say the 43-year-old man was holding a book while waiting for his son to get home from school. "Transparency’s in the eye of the beholder...and if you think we should display a victim's worst day for public consumption, that is not the transparency I'm speaking of,” Putney said, adding that releasing the footage could jeopardize the investigation. The officer involved in the shooting is Brentley Vinson has since been placed on paid administrative leave, a standard procedure.
Photo of Officer Brentley Vinson via WBTV
The fatal encounter unfolded at 4:00 pm Tuesday, September 20 at The Village at College Downs, where officers were searching for a suspect who had an outstanding warrant.
Protests began that night and escalated late Wednesday as demonstrators made their way to a commercial area in uptown Charlotte. While some prayed others turned to violence, making it difficult to tell the difference between peaceful protesters and criminal opportunists.
During a prayer vigil in honor Scott, a protester later identified as 26-year-old Justin Carr, was shot in the head in what police described as a civilian on civilian crime.
Hours before he succumbed to his wounds, Carr’s mother took to social media in anguish.
Carr, who had been listed in critical condition and was on life support died Thursday in the hospital, the Charlotte Observer reports.
Police clad in riot gear fired off tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd, while others launched bottles and rocks at the police and passing traffic. According to the CMPD throughout the second tense and violent night of protesting, four officers sustained non-life threatening injuries while nine civilians were injured.
More than 40 people were arrested for charges including failure to disperse, assault, and breaking and entering. The growing unrest prompted North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to declare a state of emergency and call in the National Guard.
Looters also vandalized the Charlotte Hornets team store and the Hyatt House hotel attacking two employees.
While the violent and destructive acts were limited to a handful, the majority of protestors were focused on more peaceful methods of demonstration, shouting the slogans "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" and "Black Lives Matter" while making their way through the downtown Charlotte streets.
In stark contrast to the handling of the situation in Charlotte, prosecutors in Tulsa have charged a white Oklahoma police officer there with first-degree manslaughter Thursday, less than a week after she fatally shot Terence Crutcher.
Crutcher, a 40-year-old unarmed black man Crutcher was fatally shot by police after officers encountered him standing next to his broken down SUV on the highway.
Although police originally told the Associated Press the victim had approached the officers, refused to put his hands up, and reached into his vehicle before being killed, helicopter and dash cam video, released just days after the incident, show evidence to the contrary.
Shelby "reacted unreasonably by escalating the situation from a confrontation with Mr. Crutcher, who was not responding to verbal commands and was walking away from her with his hands held up, becoming emotionally involved to the point that she over reacted," an affidavit filed with the charge stated.
Since Crutcher's death, demonstrations in Tulsa have been consistently peaceful, while the National Guard was called in to try to a head off a third night of violence in Charlotte.
Scott’s wife issued a statement pleading for her North Carolina community to protest peacefully:
"As a family, we respect the rights of those who wish to protest, but we ask that people protest peacefully," the statement read. "Please do not hurt people or members of law enforcement, damage property or take things that do not belong to you in the name of protesting.”
According to reports, protests have sparked in other cities including Dallas.