Charlotte, NC – Succumbing to enormous public pressure and facing the possibility of a spiral of violence in rioting, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police released dash and officer body camera footage of the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott on Saturday.
Debate has raged over whether Scott had a gun or a book at the time he was killed by Officer Brentley Vinson — The Free Thought Project previously surmised through eyewitness statements the latter was more likely.
But, as we also reported, Scott’s having possession of a gun should not be a death sentence unless he aimed it at an officer and directly threatened to take a life because it is perfectly legal to carry a weapon in the open in North Carolina.
Video indeed does appear to show Scott taking a firearm from his car as police holler orders for him to drop the weapon.
However, footage does nothing to back police claims the shooting was justified.
Just two seconds elapse between the time Scott removes the weapon from his vehicle and the time Vinson shoots — even though it appears all officers on the scene are located behind cover of vehicles.
Worse, the 34-year-old father, whose only crime constitutes being in the wrong place at the wrong time, never raised the weapon in a threatening manner — he simply never had the chance to, if that was even his intent.
Footage shows Scott retrieve the gun and back away from his vehicle as his wife yells from a slightly removed location that her husband has a TBI — traumatic brain injury — has just taken his medicine and poses no threat to officers.
It would seem from video taken by his wife, Rakeyia, simply in the number of orders to drop the weapon issued by police, that Scott had actually procured the weapon from his SUV prior to the time shown in footage released by Charlotte police.
But even if that is the case, again, at the time Vinson fired four bullets, Scott posed literally no threat to officers.
In fact, this clip brings up a familiar question in lethal incidents involving police, considering North Carolina’s legal open carry laws — whatever happened to employing less lethal means when no imminent threat exists?
Charlotte officers stand safely behind the cover of their and other vehicles on scene. Yes, they did order the man to drop his weapon, but that noncompliance in itself is not a capital offense, even if he holds a firearm in his hand — the man did not brandish the weapon at officers, or even gesture as if he was considering doing so.
Additionally, at the time he was fatally shot, Scott was not a suspect in any crime — he had done nothing illegal nor was he suspected of that.
Charlotte police were on scene either surveilling or attempting to serve an arrest warrant for a completely unrelated individual. Scott simply waited in his car for his son to arrive after school — the same spot in front of an apartment building neighbors say he always waited, reading.
Keith Scott literally did nothing in violation of the law when police ended his life. Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and suffering from a brain injury which for all intents and purposes could have made the police seem to be a threat or at least disoriented the man, Scott lost his life for failing to comply.
That disorientation is additionally evidenced on Rakeyia’s cell phone video, as she pleads with her husband, “Keith! Don’t you do it,” multiple times. But she also begs officers not to shoot as she explains the brain injury and insists he poses no threat.
Although contention and factious national debate has zeroed in on the gun versus book debate, it’s absolutely imperative to emphasize that, in itself, is not the heart of the issue.
Police would only be justified in taking a life if sufficient imminent threat to theirs exists. Noncompliance is not an imminent threat — particularly when less than lethal means exist to quell a situation.
Nonetheless, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney announced, adding more footage will be forthcoming,
“Officers are absolutely not being charged by me, but again, there’s another investigation ongoing.”
His department claims they saw marijuana in Scott’s car and that was sufficient reason to initiate contact.
What the untimely death of Keith Lamont Scott constitutes, then, is yet another killing in the name of victimless crime — the drug war — which has produced more victims since prohibition than the plant, itself, ever will.
— Christina Watkins (@CWatkinsTV) September 24, 2016