ACLU: Stop releasing piecemeal information, release entire Keith Scott video

ACLU: Stop releasing piecemeal information, release entire Keith Scott video

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina is calling on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) to publicly release all body and dash camera footage from the Keith Lamont Scott shooting.

The statement comes nearly a week after 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by a CMPD officer.

It happened Tuesday at The Village at College Downs apartment complex on Old Concord Road, in northeast Charlotte. CMPD says plainclothes officers were in the area to serve a warrant on another person when they encountered Scott.

That encounter ended in Scott being shot and killed.

Police said they recovered a gun at the scene of the shooting and that Scott was "absolutely in possession of a handgun."

Last week, a police source confirmed that a gun reportedly found near his body had Scott's fingerprints, DNA and blood on it. The source also told WBTV the case in the gun was loaded.

RELATED: Police source: Gun found near Keith Scott's body had his fingerprints, DNA on it

Scott's family maintains that he did not own a gun and was holding a book when he was shot and killed.

Saturday, CMPD released portions of body camera video and dash camera video from the incident. The body camera video was 1:12 long - the dash camera video was just over two minutes.

"In the interest of full transparency, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police must stop releasing information to the public on a piecemeal basis and disclose all remaining body and dash camera footage, as well as audio of dispatch recordings, of the moments before and after Mr. Scott was killed," Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel for the ACLU of North Carolina, said Monday.

"The public and Mr. Scott's family deserve to see and hear all available information about whether something was in his hand and why a man who was suspected of no crime, other than the newly disclosed accusation that he possessed a minor amount of marijuana, is now dead," she added.

During a press conference Chief Kerr Putney confirmed information that WBTV had been given earlier during the week that Scott had marijuana with him during the incident.

In Saturday's press release, Putney said officers who were at the apartment complex to serve the warrant saw Scott pull into the parking lot. He reportedly parked beside the unmarked police vehicle and began rolling what they believed to be a marijuana "blunt."

"Officers did not consider Mr. Scott's drug activity to be a priority at the time and they resumed the warrant operation," the release states. "A short time later, Officer [Brentley] Vinson observed Mr. Scott hold a gun up."

That's when police say the incident became a public safety concern" and approached Scott.

The officers then identified themselves as police officers and "gave clear, loud and repeated verbal commands to drop the gun," according to police. They said Scott refused to follow those commands.

That's when an officer in uniform and in a marked vehicle arrived to assist, and "utilized his baton to attempt to breach the front passenger window in an effort to arrest" Scott. This is the vehicle police said the dash-cam video was recorded from.

The release states Scott then got out of the vehicle with the gun and "backed away from the vehicle while continuing to ignore officers' repeated loud verbal commands to drop the gun."

"Officer Vinson perceived Mr. Scott's actions and movements as an imminent physical threat to himself and the other officers. Officer Vinson fired his issued service weapon, striking Mr. Scott," the release states. "Officers immediately rendered first aid and requested Medic to respond to the scene."

Scott died from those injuries. Putney said his department is not pressing charges against Vinson.

"The videos released this weekend raise a host of questions about why police shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, and whether, in doing so, the officers involved violated state or federal law," Birdsong said. "In addition to failing to follow the department's own rules regarding the use of deadly force, de-escalation, when to wear and activate body cameras, and more."

Scott's family says he was disabled due to a traumatic brain injury (T.B.I.) he suffered late last year.

In a sit-down interview with Live5News, in Charleston, Scott's mother - Vernita Scott Walker - talked about his injuries. She said he was injured in a motorcycle accident in November 2015 when he was riding to Charleston from Charlotte.

"He had some issues with his brain and he had two broken hips and broken pelvis broke in half and his nose was broken," Vernita said. "It caused him to stutter his words and sometimes he couldn't remember what he said."

The ACLU said it doesn't have statistics on the number of people with disabilities killed by police, but added that "Mr. Scott certainly was not the first."

"In several videos, Mr. Scott's wife can be heard telling officers that Mr. Scott has a 'T.B.I.' (traumatic brain injury) and had just taken his medicine," Birdsong said.

"In 2015, the Charlotte City Council unanimously passed a civil liberties resolution that included directives for how officers should interact with members of the public, including those with disabilities, and how to de-escalate potentially violent situations," she continued. "The available information suggests that the officers who encountered Mr. Scott did not abide by those directives, and calls into question whether the Charlotte Police Department has adequately trained any of its officers to respond effectively to such situations."

House Bill 972, which was signed into law on July 11, prevents the public from viewing footage from law enforcement body cameras or dashboard cameras, with some exceptions. It goes into effect October 1.

"CMPD must release whatever audio and video footage remains of the shooting of Mr. Scott now," Birdsong said. "The department must not simply run out the clock on the new law that will block the public from seeing body camera footage without a court order. CMPD should do the right thing and release all the footage."

According to the Guardian's database The Counted, Scott was the 194th African-American killed by police in the United States this year.

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