Charlotte officer will not face charges in shooting death of Kei - | WBTV Charlotte

Charlotte officer will not face charges in shooting death of Keith Scott

Surveillance footage DA Andrew Murray showed during Wednesday's press conference Surveillance footage DA Andrew Murray showed during Wednesday's press conference
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

No charges will be brought against Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer Brentley Vinson in the shooting death Keith Lamont Scott, District Attorney Andrew Murray announced Wednesday.

"After a thorough review, it is my conclusion that Officer Vinson acted lawfully in shooting Scott on September 20, 2016," Murray said.

Murray arrived around 9 a.m. Wednesday to review the findings with Scott's family, who requested a state investigation into the shooting. He then spoke publicly around 10:45 a.m. at the DA's office, located on E. Trade Street. 

Murray extended his "heartfelt" prayers to Scott's family Wednesday, and said he "personally reviewed" Scott's case.

"All of the credible, available and believable evidence supports the conclusion that Scott was armed with a gun," Murray said. "That evidence includes DNA, an admission by the seller who illegally sold Scott the gun that was recovered at the scene, and pre-incident radio traffic in which officers can be heard discussing that they saw Scott with a gun."

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REPORT RELEASED BY THE DA's OFFICE

Scott's family attorneys addressed the public after the DA's announcement, saying they also learned the results of the investigation Wednesday morning. 

"Families are destroyed when these things happen," family attorney Justin Bamberg said. Charles Monnett, another attorney for the family, said they look forward to one day getting justice for Scott. 

CLICK HERE TO READ A STATEMENT ISSUED BY SCOTT'S FAMILY

Monnett applauded the Mecklenburg County district attorney for making the investigation's findings public. 

"Those who were there and saw what they saw remain steadfast, Bamberg said. "Based on evidence, I think it's safe to say there was a firearm on the scene," Bamberg continued, but "there is no definitive proof that Keith had a firearm in his hand that the time this occurred." 

The district attorney pointed to the first visual of Wednesday's press conference, directing eyes to a surveillance video of Scott pulling up to a convenience store and exiting his white SUV. 

Murray drew attention to Scott's right ankle, saying "the bulge you see here," pointing to Scott's right ankle, is consistent with the gun and holster recovered from the scene. 

"According to the evidence presented, Scott drew a gun from his ankle holster when confronted by officers. Scott then exited the vehicle with the gun in his hand," Murray said. The officers commanded Scott to drop the gun at least 10 times, as verified on video, and Scott failed to comply, Murray continued. 

Mrs. Scott remained that she did not know her husband was in possession of a gun, but Murray said text messages show differently. 

A portion of officer Vinson's interviewed was also played during the conference, where Vinson described fearing he or another officer would be shot. Vinson said Scott had a "trance like" demeanor prior to the shooting. The daze is consistent with side effects from medication Scott was taking, Murray justified.

The four shots fired at Scott were from Vinson's gun, Murray said, in reference to claims that another officer may have fired the shots. "Officer Vinson is the only officer who fired his weapon, and he is the only officer who shot Scott."

The district attorney said the SBI found no evidence that Scott was in possession of a book when he encountered police, referring to several claims that Scott was reading at the time. The SBI also found no credible indication that evidence had been "planted" or "altered," Murray said. 

"When a law enforcement officer shoots and kills a person in Mecklenburg County, a very specific protocol is followed to review the case," the Mecklenburg County DA's office says. "For criminal charges to be pursued, the District Attorney must find that there is a reasonable likelihood that all elements of the crime charged can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to 12 unanimous jurors at trial after considering reasonable defenses."

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL PROTOCOL

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department says they accept the decision of the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office following the completion of the SBI's findings. 

"CMPD is also striving to improve as an organization in the areas of transparency and legitimacy and have taken considerable steps in that regard," the department said.

Several of those steps include:

  • Police Foundation assessment
  • Additional issuance of body-worn cameras
  • Release of body-worn camera video
  • Open data release
  • President Obama's task force on 21st centruy policing
  • Citizens review board
  • Building trust

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL RELEASE FROM CMPD

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney met with neighbors to work on improving community relations Tuesday night, a day before decision was announced.

"Whatever happens tomorrow, we're going to be prepared for it. If it happens Thursday, we'll be prepared then, we've got work to do, we still have to continue to build trust and enhance trust with our community, and tonight was a part of that," Putney said. 

RELATED: Chief Putney: CMPD is prepared for 'whatever happens'

Scott, 43, was killed Sept. 20 when police were serving a warrant at The Village at College Downs apartment complex on Old Concord Road.

The autopsy, released by the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner, shows that Scott was killed by gunshot wounds to the posterior left chest and left abdomen.

The medical examiner states Scott was shot a third time, in the posterior left wrist.

RELATED: Medical examiner releases official autopsy in Keith Lamont Scott shooting

"We believe the first shot fired was the shot that struck Keith in the back and ultimately killed him," Monnett said in a statement in October.

According to CMPD, and reiterated by the district attorney Wednesday, plainclothes officers were at the apartment complex to serve a warrant unrelated to Scott. They said Scott pulled into the parking lot and parked beside the unmarked police vehicle officers were in, then began rolling what they believed to be a marijuana "blunt."

A short time later, police say they saw Scott hold a gun up.

NOTE: The video was provided to WBTV and other media outlets by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. WBTV cannot authenticate at this time that the video and audio hasn’t been edited or altered before it was provided to the station.

VIDEO FOR MOBILE USERS: Click here to see the body camera video | Click here to see the dash camera video 

According to Putney, the officers identified themselves as police officers and "gave clear, loud and repeated verbal commands to drop the gun." 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. 

CMPD said 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," police officials said. "Officers immediately rendered first aid and requested Medic to respond to the scene."

FULL COVERAGE: Click here to see full coverage of the Keith Lamont Scott shooting 

Scott's family has said he did not own a gun, but police said they recovered a gun at the scene of the shooting. Putney said Scott was "absolutely in possession of a handgun."

MORE POLICE VIDEO: Click here to see the previously unreleased body camera video | Click here to see the previously unreleased dash camera video

Monnett said they were "forced to conduct the independent autopsy because the medical examiner refused to release even the most basic information about his wounds or cause of his death."

The private autopsy does not include a toxicology report, which was conducted by county medical examiners who originally examined Scott’s body.

A day after the fatal shooting of Scott, about 1,000 people gathered uptown to protest, and Charlotte officials worried that events might turn violent for a second night.

When some demonstrators marched to the EpiCentre and began smashing windows and looting businesses, “there was no significant police presence in the area,” according to an affidavit obtained by The Charlotte Observer from a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department major.

RELATED: Did CMPD use too much show of force – or too little – during protests?

Scott's family says they are disappointed in the DA's decision, but hopes there is no violence in any protests that may follow Wednesday's announcement. 

RELATED: Scott family 'disappointed' in DA's decision, asks that protests remain peaceful

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