Brentley Vinson, the CMPD officer involved in a fatal shooting that sparked protests Tuesday night, grew up in Charlotte, played football at Ardrey Kell High School and dreamed of becoming a police officer like his father.
Larry Kennedy, who coached Vinson through middle school at J.M. Robinson in south Charlotte, said Vinson had long talked about becoming a police officer and would often talk about potentially becoming a federal officer one day.
“I thought when he became a police officer like his dad (Alex) that it was a perfect fit for him,” said Kennedy, assistant football coach at South Mecklenburg High School. “I’ve watched this kid work his butt off from an early age. … He’s a phenomenal kid and happens to be in an unfortunate situation right now, and I hate to see him be in the middle of it and being vilified the way he is.”
Protesters gathered Tuesday night on Old Concord Road at Bonnie Lane, where police said Vinson fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott in the parking lot of a University City apartment complex Tuesday afternoon.
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Police said they had been searching for someone who had an outstanding warrant at The Village at College Downs complex on Old Concord Road when they saw Scott leave his car.
Officers approached Scott after he got back into the car. He emerged from the car with a firearm “and posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers, who subsequently fired their weapon striking the subject,” police said in a statement. “The officers immediately requested Medic and began performing CPR.”
Police said they recovered the firearm Scott was holding. But a woman who said she is Scott’s daughter claimed on a live-streamed video on Facebook that Scott was unarmed when he was shot.
Per department protocol, Vinson, 26, will be placed on administrative leave. Police said Vinson was in plain clothes during the incident. He was not wearing a body camera, they said.
Vinson joined the department’s police academy in July 2014 and was assigned to the Metro Division that December. He faced no disciplinary actions, according to personnel records released by CMPD.
Reached by phone, Vinson’s father, Alex Vinson, a retired CMPD police officer, declined to comment, citing police protocol.
A review of court records did not turn up any infractions against Brentley Vinson.
Former Ardrey Kell High coach Adam Hastings, now the head coach at Providence Day, said Vinson was an all-conference football player as a junior in 2007. Vinson, who played safety and wide receiver, missed his senior year after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.
Vinson decided to play a prep season at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, where he earned a scholarship to Liberty University. At Liberty, Vinson became a team captain at defensive back and had a team-high 69 tackles as a senior in the 2012 season. He also studied criminal justice there.
Hastings said when Vinson came back to town after school he would often ask him to come and speak to his players. Once, Vinson mentored another Ardrey Kell player who had suffered a similar knee injury.
“We need more Brent Vinsons, that type of person, in our communities,” Hastings said. “I don’t know anything that happened (with Tuesday’s shootings). … He’s a natural leader and one of those guys who always had the best interest of others before himself.”
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