No charges will be brought against Charlotte police officer Brentley Vinson in the September fatal shooting of 43-year-old Keith Scott. Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray made the announcement at a press conference in which he detailed the shooting and extensive investigation.
Murray says he and a team of 15 senior prosecutors decided unanimously not to bring charges against officer Vinson.
“After a thorough review and given the totality of evidence in the case, it is in my opinion that officer Vinson acted lawfully when he shot Mr. Scott,” Murray said.
Murray says Scott was armed with a loaded weapon when he exited his vehicle and did not comply with repeated commands by police to put the gun down. Scott’s family has held that he was unarmed and reading a book, waiting on his son in the complex’s parking lot when he was approached by officers. But a previously unseen convenience store video taken just prior to the shooting shows a bulge around Scott’s leg.
“The bulge you can see here is consistent with a holster and gun that was later described by officers and located at the scene,” Murray said.
Murray says Scott purchased the gun from a man in Gaston County in September and that the seller identified the gun and holster. He also says some witnesses retracted statements that they had seen a white officer shooting Scott and not Vinson. Murray says ballistic tests show that all of the bullets fired came from Vinson’s gun.
Justin Bamberg, an attorney who represents the family, says Murray’s reasoning not to prosecute is sound but added, “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 says a civil lawsuit is still a possibility.
Transcript of Officer Brentley Vinson's interview with police:
Read the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department's statement regarding the district attorney's decision.
Watch DA Andrew Murray's entire press conference.