Cellphone video of Charlotte police fatally shooting Keith Lamont Scott was released Friday to the New York Times and ABC News by Scott's family's attorney. Although the video's release comes after days of violent protests as frustrated residents demand answers from local law enforcement, it does not clarify whether Scott was armed when he was fatally shot by police. Taken by Scott's wife, Rakeyia Scott, the video shows much, but not all, of Scott's encounter with police in Charlotte, North Carolina.
At just over two minutes long, the video shows multiple police officers surrounding Scott's vehicle with one officer repeatedly ordering Scott to "drop the gun." Scott is not initially visible and Rakeyia can be heard telling police, "He has no weapon. ... He doesn't have a gun. He has a T.B.I (Traumatic Brain Injury). He's not going to do anything to you guys. He just took his medicine." Rakeyia pleads with police throughout the video. "Don’t shoot him, don't shoot him," she can be heard saying.
Although gunshots can be heard, the video does not actually show police shooting Scott as the camera is briefly pointed down at the time of the shooting. Moments later Scott can be seen lying on the ground as Rakeyia shouts, "He better not be f--king dead, he better alive." It is not clear from the video if Scott was armed or pointing a weapon at police, as authorities have claimed, but some have argued the video provides evidence police planted the gun found at the scene.
An attorney for Scott's relatives said the family had decided to make Rakeyia's video public in an effort to provide "another vantage point" and encouraged Charlotte police to release their own videos of the encounter that led to Scott's death. The family first called for police to publicly release all footage of the encounter on Thursday.
Charlotte police have not released footage of the encounter captured by dash cam or officers' body cams, but have maintained that Scott was armed and "posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers." However, even Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney said his own review of the available footage did not give him "absolute, definitive, visual evidence that would confirm that a person is pointing a gun." Investigators said they recovered a gun from the scene, according to ABC News. Meanwhile, Scott's family has said he was holding a book and was unarmed when police shot and killed him in the parking lot of an apartment complex.
Scott's death sparked three nights of protests in downtown Charlotte, two of them violent, as many residents expressed their outrage and frustration over the latest officer-involved shooting.