Charlotte officer who killed Keith Lamont Scott will not be charged, prosecutor says
The Charlotte, North Carolina, police officer who officials said fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott will not face charges for the September incident, the local district attorney announced Wednesday.
Brentley Vinson, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer identified in the Sept. 20 shooting, has been cleared of wrongdoing, Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray said during a press conference.
"It is my opinion that Officer Vinson acted lawfully when he shot Mr. Scott," Murray said.
Leading up to the "difficult" decision, the district attorney's office sought a review of case facts from 15 career prosecutors. Their recommendation of no charges was "unanimous," Murray said.
According to police officials, Vinson, who joined the police department in 2014, was among the officers who arrived at a Charlotte apartment complex to execute an arrest warrant for someone else when they encountered Scott. Police released body camera and dashboard camera video footage showing Scott, 43, getting out of his vehicle as an officer screams for him to drop a handgun.
Moments later, police say, Vinson fired at Scott, who was stuck three times. The man's family has maintained that he was not armed, but Murray presented evidence Wednesday indicating Scott was, indeed, armed. Scott, however, was backing away from officers before he was killed, the prosecutor said.
The shooting sparked days of protests in the city, some of which turned violent. Murray, who said he would release a report of his findings in the case, implored the community to read it.
"Please do not act viscerally on news snippets — read the report," he said during the press conference. "In these cases, we should not jump to conclusions, until we have all of the facts."
Ahead of the announcement, prosecutors met with Scott's widow, Rakeyia Scott, and other family members to discuss their decision, Murray confirmed during the press conference. Following the district attorney's announcement, Keith Lamont Scott's family release a statement expressing their disappointment in Murray's decision.
"We are profoundly disappointed in their decision not to criminally charge Officer Brentley Vinson for his action in taking the life of Keith Lamont Scott," the statement read. "All our family wanted was justice and for these members of law enforcement to understand that what they did was wrong."
During a press conference, Charles Monneth III, one of the family's attorneys, said that the Scotts would pursue other legal remedies in the case. "We still have real questions about the decisions that were made that day, in terms of how they confronted Keith, how they reacted to the information that he had a brain injury, and whether they used appropriate de-escalation techniques to end the situation, in a way that didn't result in the loss of Keith Scott's life," the attorney said.
Activists, some of them affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, were sharing Twitter reactions to the decision on Wednesday afternoon.
Nov. 30, 2016, 12:42 p.m. Eastern: This story has been updated.