Sunday 19 November 2017

New police video fails to show if black victim had a gun in hand

Keith Lamont Scott was shot dead by police. REUTERS
Keith Lamont Scott was shot dead by police. REUTERS

Meg Kinnard

Newly released police video of a black man's fatal shooting has failed to show whether the victim threatened officers with a gun before he was killed.

Police in Charlotte, North Carolina, still insist Keith Lamont Scott had a gun, though residents believe he was unarmed. It's not apparent in the video if he's holding anything shortly before he was shot. The dramatic video released by Charlotte police shows officers with guns drawn surrounding the man just before the shooting.

In the dashboard camera video, Mr Scott could be seen slowly backing away from his SUV with his hands down. Four shots are heard in quick succession, and he crumples to the ground mortally wounded.

After the police vehicle dashboard camera and police body-cam videos were released, a fifth day of protests against Scott's fatal shooting was largely peaceful. Police blocked off downtown streets late into the night as they had throughout the day, allowing demonstrators to take over roadways without confrontations with vehicles.

Police also released photos of what they said was a loaded handgun found at the scene, adding it bore Scott's DNA and fingerprints. They also said Scott had marijuana.

Relatives and their attorney said their questions aren't answered by the partial police video footage. "There is no definitive evidence in this video as to whether or not there is an object in his hand, and if there is, what that object is," said family attorney Justin Bamberg.

"But what we do know is that the moment Mr Scott is shot, it appears as though he's not aggressively moving toward law enforcement; he's actually doing the opposite. He's passively stepping back."

The dashboard camera footage opens with a police car pulling up as two officers point their guns at Scott, who is inside the car with the doors closed and windows up. Mr Scott gets out and begins walking backward before shots are fired.

From a different angle, new police footage shows an officer approach with his gun drawn and another officer already pointing his gun at Mr Scott. When Mr Scott comes into view, his hands are at his side and he's standing beside his SUV. The footage doesn't show the shots being fired, and Scott is next seen on the ground.

Police explained that in the incident two plain-clothes officers had been preparing to serve a warrant on someone else when Scott pulled up and parked next to them.

The officers saw Mr Scott rolling a marijuana cigarette and then holding up a gun. "Due to the combination of illegal drugs and the gun Mr Scott had in his possession, officers decided to take enforcement action for public safety concerns.

Irish Independent

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