The Charlotte Mecklenburg police officer who shot and killed an African-American man in September will not face any charges. Mecklenburg County’s district attorney said Tuesday all the evidence supports officer Brentley Vinson’s claim that he felt threatened.
In his press conference, D.A. Andrew Murray talked about a lot of things we already knew – that Keith Lamont Scott was spotted in a northeast Charlotte apartment parking lot with marijuana and a handgun. There were some new details, too - many aimed at making the case that Scott did have a gun.
Ultimately, Murray said, the shooting was justified because Vinson saw Scott as an imminent threat:
“What he saw was a man who had drawn a gun when confronted by police, exited the vehicle with the gun in hand, and failed to comply with officers who commanded him at least ten times to put the gun down,” Murray said.
That’s how Vinson described, when he told investigators Scott wouldn’t drop the gun. Murray played video of Vinson’s interview with investigators during the press conference.
“I felt like if I didn’t do anything right then at that point it’s like he…he was gonna shoot me or he’s gonna shoot one of my buddies, um, and it was gonna happen right now. So I reacted, I was the only one that had a decent backdrop.
The State Bureau of Investigation, or SBI, took over the case. Prosecutors used the SBI’s findings to make their decision this week.
Murray said all of the credible and available evidence suggests Scott was armed. The SBI investigation also found a lot of un-credible evidence.
“Three of these witnesses claimed on social media or media interviews that Scott was unarmed. But the SBI later determined they did not actually see the shooting,” Murray said.
The D.A. also tried to debunk the theory that another officer shot Scott.
First, Officer Vinson took responsibility for the shooting from the outset. Every officer’s gun was seized, and the ammunition was counted by the investigators. Each one had a full complement of ammo with the exception of Officer Vinson, who is four rounds short of a full complement.
There was other new evidence that Scott did have a weapon - Facebook messages from the man who sold Scott the stolen gun and an ankle holster. And video from a convenience store Scott visited before the shooting. That showed a bulge on his lower right leg consistent with the holster and gun found at the scene.
The Scott family's lawyer, Justin Bamberg, said he understands why the DA decided not to press charges.
“But that does not mean that this officer’s killing of Keith Scott was right. All that means is that under the view of the DA’s office, it wasn’t criminal. And those are two completely different things,” he said.
The Scott family says it’s still considering a civil lawsuit against police. And while they’re disappointed, they called for calm, saying “responding to violence with violence is never appropriate.”
Watch DA Andrew Murray's entire press conference below.
Read D.A. Andrew Murray's full report on the Scott shooting, http://www.charmeckda.com/news/113016_1.pdf
See all of WFAE's coverage of the Keith Scott case, http://wfae.org/term/keith-lamont-scott