Charlotte police release body camera footage of Keith Lamont Scott’s death
Charlotte, North Carolina, police released extended body camera footage Tuesday night showing the moments before and after Keith Lamont Scott was fatally shot by an officer in an apartment complex parking lot two weeks ago.
Audio is missing from the first moments of the graphic 16-minute video, and you never hear the gunshots that killed Scott, a 43-year-old black man who was a father of three.
Instead, you see police circling Scott’s vehicle with their guns drawn and pointed. You see Scott briefly, wearing turquoise trousers, standing next to his SUV. When the audio resumes, the officer wearing the bodycam comes around the side of the car into the parking lot.
You see Scott lying on the ground, while at least four officers approach him, still with their guns drawn, saying, “handcuffs, handcuffs.” They cuff Scott, and then count his bullet wounds — one on his shoulder, one on his stomach, and one on his wrist. Scott can be heard groaning.
In the minutes that follow, the officers who shot Scott attempt to save his life by delivering first aid. “Stay with us, bro,” one officer says. “What’s your name, big man?” You hear them commenting that the heartbeat they initially felt in Scott is starting to subside. After about 10 minutes, police roll Scott over and attempt to give him CPR.
The video — like the dashcam footage and cellphone video recorded by Scott’s wife — does not conclusively prove, or disprove, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police’s account of the Sept. 20 events, which was that Scott pointed a gun at officers, making them fear for their lives and therefore justifying their decision to pull the trigger.
During a news conference Tuesday evening, Justin Bamberg, the lawyer retained by Scott’s family, said the video “does not shine any light on whether a firearm was in his possession or where it was found.”
“It is very difficult to watch,” Bamberg said about the video. “What you’re seeing is real life. There are real-life consequences to the decision an officer makes to pull the trigger.”
A bystander at the scene contends that Scott — who was reportedly suffering from a traumatic brain injury from a motorcycle accident a year earlier — was holding a book, not a gun. Police say the firearm recovered at the scene had Scott’s DNA and fingerprints on it.
Scott’s death set off a round of protests and riots in the city of Charlotte, during which a civilian was shot by a protester and police cars were torched.
The release of the video comes at a time when police-transparency advocates have ratcheted up criticism of the state’s recently passed law, which effectively limits the public’s right to view police body-camera footage.
Police encountered Scott in the University Complex parking lot while they were trying to deliver a warrant to a different person. They say they noticed Scott in his truck rolling marijuana and decided to investigate further when they spotted a firearm in the vehicle.