CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Charlotte police released dramatic body and dashboard camera footage of the shooting of a black man after several days of demonstrations that have coalesced around demands that the public see the video.
The two video clips shows officers with guns drawn surrounding a black man with his hands at his side before shots are fired and he buckles and falls. It’s unclear if there was anything in the man’s hands in the footage, which has done little to assuage his relatives.
The footage of the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott was released amid days of protests, including an outpouring by hundreds earlier Saturday, which coalesced around demands for the public to see the video. Police said Scott had a gun, though residents have said he was unarmed.
In the dashboard camera video released Saturday night, Scott could be seen slowly backing away from his SUV with his hands down, and it’s not apparent if he’s holding anything. Four shots are heard, and he falls to the ground.
From a different angle, newly released police body camera footage shows an officer approach with his gun drawn and another officer already pointing his gun at Scott. When Scott comes into view, his hands are at his side and he’s standing beside his SUV. The body camera footage doesn’t show the moment shots are fired, and Scott is next seen on the ground.
An attorney for Scott’s family, Justin Bamberg, said the footage leaves questions unanswered more than it provides clarity.
“One of the biggest questions,” Bamberg said, “is do those actions, do those precious seconds, justify this shooting?”
Ray Dotch, Scott’s brother-in-law, objected to reporters’ questions about Scott’s background, saying he shouldn’t have to “humanize him in order for him to be treated fairly.”
“What we know and what you should know about him is that he was an American citizen who deserved better,” he added.
Chief Kerr Putney said at a news conference that the video would be made available through a web link in a news release. He said that and other evidence they were releasing would corroborate their account of how things unfolded, including that Keith Lamont Scott was holding a gun when he was shot.
He addressed reporters hours after several hundred demonstrators took to the street for a fifth day and marched around downtown Charlotte.
Putney said that he decided to release the footage after receiving assurances from the State Bureau of Investigation that it would not impact their independent probe of the shooting.
Asked whether he expected the footage to quiet protesters, Putney responded: “The footage itself will not create in anyone’s mind as to what this case represents. The footage only supports the other information such as forensic evidence and witness statements.”
He also said that his officers didn’t break the law but noted that the State Bureau of Investigation is continuing its investigation.
“Officers are absolutely not being charged by me, but again, there’s another investigation ongoing,” he said.
Putney said that Scott was absolutely in possession of a handgun,” and that officers also saw marijuana in his car, prompting officers to act.
A police narrative released along with the video gives the most complete account yet of what brought Scott to police attention.
Two plainclothes officers in an unmarked vehicle were preparing to serve a warrant on someone else when Scott pulled up and parked next to them, according to the document.
The officers saw Scott rolling a marijuana cigar, or blunt, though they didn’t consider it a priority at first, it said. But then one of the officers saw him hold up a gun, the document states.
“Due to the combination of illegal drugs and the gun Mr. Scott had in his possession, officers decided to take enforcement action for public safety concerns,” the document said.
The narrative says Scott didn’t respond to repeated commands to drop his weapon.
Those commands aren’t heard in the body camera video, which doesn’t have audible sound until after the shooting.
Amid anxiety and unease over the shooting of Scott, demonstrations in Charlotte have gone from violent to peaceful, although demands to see video of the encounter remained at the forefront of discussions for those taking to the streets.
Many of the hundreds massed outside at the Charlotte police department building Saturday afternoon chanted the name “Keith Scott.” The 43-year-old black man was shot to death by a black officer earlier in the week.
Protesters marched Saturday through the streets of a city on edge after Scott’s shooting death. The demonstrations reached a violent crescendo on Wednesday before the National Guard was called in a day later to maintain order.
The next two nights of protests were free of property damage and violence, with organizers stressing a message of peace at the end of the week.
On Saturday, demonstrators changed, “No tapes, no peace” and raised signs including one reading “Stop Killing The Black People.” Community organizers said on Friday they anticipated that protests would continue in some form until the videos were released.
Charlotte is the latest U.S. city to be shaken by protests and recriminations over the death of a black man at the hands of police, a list that includes Baltimore, Milwaukee, Chicago, New York and Ferguson, Missouri.
Earlier in the week, the Charlotte protests turned violent, with demonstrators attacking reporters and others, setting fires and smashing windows of hotels, office buildings and restaurants.
Forty-four people were arrested after Wednesday’s protests, and one protester who was shot died at a hospital Thursday. City officials said police did not shoot 26-year-old Justin Carr. A suspect was arrested, but police provided few details.
On Thursday, protests were largely peaceful after National Guard members came to the city to help keep order and the mayor imposed a curfew.
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