Video of Tuesday’s fatal police shooting doesn’t definitively show the victim pointing a gun, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney said Thursday after viewing it.
Police say they saw Keith Lamont Scott armed with a handgun when he exited his vehicle at a University City apartment complex Tuesday afternoon.
But Putney said the video does not provide “absolute, definitive visual evidence that would confirm that a person is pointing a gun. I didn’t see that in the videos I reviewed.”
Putney said the angle of the video was such that he couldn’t see all of Scott’s actions, but what he did see was consistent with witness statements and what officers on the scene reported.
Scott, 43, an African American, was killed Tuesday while police were trying to serve a warrant on someone else. Putney said afterward that the “totality” of the evidence supports the police conclusion that officers faced an imminent, deadly threat.
Scott’s family will be invited to watch the video of the shooting, Putney said, but police have no plans to release the footage to the public. He said the family should have an opportunity to view it as soon as Thursday night or sometime Friday.
Putney said that references to transparency in the case didn’t mean that the public would necessarily get to view the video, but meant the family would be allowed. “Transparency means seeing the video if you’re the aggrieved party,” he said.
The video does not give me absolute, definitive visual evidence that would confirm that a person is pointing a gun. I didn’t see that in the videos I reviewed.
Kerr Putney, chief of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, speaking about police videos that captured Tuesday’s shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
Putney says his department releases shooting video “when we believe there is a compelling reason.” He said he supports transparency in the case, “but I never said full transparency.”
“If you think we should display a family’s worst day for public consumption, that is not the transparency we’re speaking of,” the chief said.
A new state law will soon prevent police agencies from releasing body camera footage to the public without a court order. But African-American leaders, open government advocates and the ACLU urged the police to release the video, noting that the new law doesn’t go into effect until Oct. 1.
But the entrance of the State Bureau of Investigation into the case makes that a moot point, Putney said, because he felt releasing the video could impair their independent investigation.