CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Charlotte police Officer Brentley Vinson’s deadly use of force was lawful the day he killed Keith Lamont Scott, Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray said Wednesday.
He said no charges will be filed in the case, and that 15 prosecutors reached the decision unanimously.
Murray urged the community to remain calm.
“I know some are going to be frustrated,” he said, but Vinson “was justified in shooting him.”
The district attorney said he met with Scott’s family before making the announcement, and that the family was “extremely gracious.”
In response to public speculation about whether Keith Lamont Scott was armed the day he was killed by police, Murray said “all the credible evidence” leads to the conclusion Scott was armed.
His DNA was found on the grip of a gun found at the scene, Murray said.
Murray showed surveillance footage from a convenience store shortly before Scott was shot at an apartment complex. The footage showed a bulge around Scott’s ankle. Murray said the bulge is consistent with the holster and gun later described by officers.
The district attorney also said at least three officers reported seeing Scott holding a gun before he was shot, though dashcam video did not show that detail.
The announcement that no officers will be charged in the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott “doesn’t end our inquiry,” Scott family attorney Charles Monnett said Wednesday.
“We still have concerns,” Monnett said. “We still have real questions about what decisions were made that day,” such as whether police could have used better de-escalation techniques that may have prevented Scott’s death.
The 43-year-old black man’s death sparked protests and added more fuel to the national debate over whether police are too quick to use deadly force, particularly against African-American men.
Vinson, the officer who shot Scott, is also black. Police said they were looking for someone with an outstanding warrant when Scott, 43, exited a vehicle with a gun.
Scott’s family said the father of seven children didn’t have a gun. But police say Vinson opened fire after Scott stepped out of a vehicle with a gun in his hand and didn’t obey commands to drop it.
Scott’s death led to public pressure on local police to release video of the shooting. The night after Scott’s death, hundreds of protesters gathered. Many said they were angry about what they said was unnecessary police action. Some protests were peaceful, others turned violent.
In October, officials released footage of the incident. Video taken by Scott’s widow shows a different perspective of what happened.
Dashcam footage shows an officer in plain clothes with his weapon drawn on Scott as Scott exits an SUV and begins walking backward. Vinson then shoots Scott four times.
Attorneys for Scott’s family have said the videos show he wasn’t aggressive when police surrounded him. Scott’s daughter said her father was in his SUV reading a book, waiting for a son to come home from school. But police said no book was found at the scene.
Cell phone video recorded by Scott’s wife, Rakeyia, shows a different angle of the incident. In that video, a man repeatedly yells for someone — apparently Scott — to “drop the gun.”
“He doesn’t have a gun. He has a TBI (traumatic brain injury),” Rakeyia Scott says, referencing an injury Scott sustained during a motorcycle accident. “He’s not going to do anything to you guys. He just took his medicine.”
The videos don’t clearly show whether Scott was armed. And critics say there’s one key element missing from the body camera video released by police: sound.
An autopsy report later revealed the cause of Scott’s death as gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen.
Tests of Scott’s blood indicated the presence of diazepam, amantadine, babapentin, nicotine, nordiazepam and promethazine. Scott’s family attorney said the drugs were being used to treat Scott’s traumatic brain injury.