Since late September, tensions and questions have swirled around the officer-involved shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott in North Carolina. Now, the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office has determined that Officer Brentley Vinson acted “lawfully” in self defense. Further, he will “absolutely” not be charged for his actions in the incident.
The highly disputed case has stoked outrage while many facts remained muddled. Police contended that Scott, who they say possessed marijuana, posed an “imminent and deadly threat” to officers while exiting the vehicle with a gun, yet his family contended that he was simply reading a book. The video saw two notable releases of footage, which — coupled with the rest of the investigation — led to this announcement:
R. Andrew Murray, the district attorney for Mecklenburg County, said during a lengthy news conference on Wednesday that Officer Vinson was justified in using deadly force against Mr. Scott, saying that he feared for his life and those of his fellow officers. He issued a report of his findings after the news conference. “Officer Vinson acted lawfully when he shot Mr. Scott,” Mr. Murray said.
Mr. Murray said that despite claims that Mr. Scott was not carrying a gun, he had a .380 semiautomatic handgun with a round of ammunition in the chamber. “All of the credible and available evidence suggests that he was armed,” Mr. Murray said of Mr. Scott.
Police had maintained that Scott refused orders to drop his gun, while lawyers (and Scott’s wife, Rakeyia) suggested that Scott — who sustained a traumatic brain injury in a 2015 accident — was unable to comprehend the instructions. Rakeyia Scott previously released phone footage that revealed how she shouted at officers not to shoot her husband. Subsequently, a release of partial dashcam and bodycam footage showed Scott exiting his vehicle and walking backwards (with his arms down) before being shot.
None of the clips (which all amounted to partial footage of the incident) made clear whether Scott threatened or made a movement against officers, but regardless, the DA has determined from the evidence that he did in fact have a gun on his person. Scott’s death led to multiple nights of protests in Charlotte (with at least one person being shot) and confrontations between officers and citizens.