Lawyer of Keith Lamont Scott's Family Plans To File Lawsuit Against The City

Feb 28, 2018

Justin Bamberg, attorney for the family of Keith Lamont Scott
Credit Gwendolyn Glenn/ WFAE

The attorney for the family of Keith Lamont Scott says he plans to file a lawsuit against the city in an effort to secure a settlement for Scott’s family.

Scott was fatally shot at a University City complex in 2016 by CMPD officer Brentley Vinson. He and other officers said they observed Scott in a vehicle smoking marijuana and in possession of a gun when police ordered him out of the vehicle. Vinson said he feared for his life when he shot Scott and was cleared of wrongdoing.

With me in the studio to get an update on the latest development is WFAE’s Gwendolyn Glenn.

MARK RUMSEY:  Gwen, you talked to the family’s attorney today. What did he have to say?

GWENDOLYN GLENN: Well Mark, Justin Bamberg is representing the family. He says at this point, the lawsuit has not been filed, but he is working on it. He was vague on whether he plans to file the lawsuit this week or next, saying only that he plans to file in the future. I asked him if he was waiting to hear something from city officials and he said he thinks they’ve had ample time to respond to their demands of a settlement.

MR:  What have you heard from city officials?

GG: I talked briefly with Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles and she referred me to the city’s attorney on the matter. He did not return my calls, but a spokesperson for the city did. The spokesperson said the city respects the Scott family’s right to file a lawsuit, but would not comment further on the issue.

MR:  Let’s revisit the Scott fatal shooting and how we got to where we are today.

GG: Sure. In September 2016, Keith Scott was sitting in his vehicle at a complex in University City. CMPD officers said they observed Scott smoking marijuana and in possession of a gun. They ordered Scott out of the vehicle and said he had a gun when he exited. CMPD officer Brentley Vinson said he feared for his life and fatally shot Scott. Both Scott and Vinson are African American.

MR: Officer Vinson was exonerated of wrongdoing, correct?

GG: He was by the district attorney and CMPD Chief Kerr Putney. Scott’s family contended that he did not threaten police with a weapon and took their case to the Citizens’ Review Board, which accepted the case. After three days of closed-door testimony, the board was deadlocked 4-4 on whether Putney erred in exonerating Vinson.

MR: Now the city settled for $2.5 million in 2015 in the Johnathan Ferrell fatal police shooting and paid out $500,000 in 2014 to the family of La-Reko Williams who was tasered twice by CMPD officer Michael Forbes. What are the differences here?

GG: Mark, the city settled with Ferrell’s family before any decisions had been made on that case. The officer, Randall Kerrick was immediately placed on leave by CMPD and he was indicted by a grand jury. His trial ended in a hung jury. Williams’ case was settled by a federal jury. The officer who shot Scott was exonerated and never indicted so that may play a big role in how city officials are letting this play out.