What Evidence Did The Charlotte Police Release? Keith Scott's Killing Videos And An Evidence Photo Is Now Public
The city of Charlotte, North Carolina has been in a state of upheaval following the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, the latest name on a long list of black Americans who've been slain by police officers over the last couple of years, and whose deaths have sparked widespread protest. Much of the outcry quickly became focused on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD)'s withholding of dash and body cam footage of the incident, with observers wondering what new evidence the Charlotte police would release to the general public, and when.
That wait ended on Saturday, September 24th, at least to some extent. While the two videos ultimately released by the CMPD were not all the footage the department has, as police chief Kerr Putney admitted prior to their release, there are now two pieces of footage of Scott's death from the police perspective ― one taken by a body camera mounted to one of the responding officers, and one captured by a dashboard camera on one of the officers' vehicles.
Both videos, as Putney warned, don't definitively show Scott pointing a gun at officers, and in fact don't conclusively show him holding one at all (although the police have also said Scott's DNA was found on the handgun recovered at the scene). What they do show has already inflamed further outcry and condemnation, as Scott appears to be slowly backing away with his arms at his sides when he's shot. Given the highly graphic and upsetting nature of the videos, they won't be embedded here, although you can choose to watch them at your own discretion through this link.
The CMPD also released three photos of physical evidence they collected from the scene: a handgun (which the police allege Scott was holding at the time of the shooting), a holster for the gun, and what looks like a marijuana cigarette. According to the police account of the incident, Scott was smoking a blunt in his car when the police first noticed him.
Speaking at a press conference prior to the release of the videos, Putney portrayed the killing as a matter of non-compliance.
At every encounter, people can make a decision to follow loud, verbal commands. [The officers] were reacting to what they saw and they have a duty to do so.
That's basically all the new evidence that the CMPD provided, although it's proved to be more than enough to raise further questions from critics of the shooting. It's fair to say that the video does the police narrative of the shooting absolutely no favors, as Scott's behavior does not appear aggressive, and no gun is conclusively visible in either of his hands. But far more importantly, even if a gun was in his hands, he's not shown striking any threatening gesture or posture with it.
To the contrary, except for the space of about one second before the police open fire (his left arm leaves frame for an instant before the gunshots begin, while his right arm remains in-frame the whole time), both of Scott's arms are visible, and down at his sides. It remains to be seen whether any more video footage or other physical evidence will ultimately be released ― at his presser, Putney claimed he'd only release "relevant" footage ― but you can be sure that the protesters are going to continue demanding it.