CRB finds 'potential error' in CMPD ruling on Scott shooting

Keith Lamont Scott (The Charlotte Observer)
Keith Lamont Scott (The Charlotte Observer)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte's Citizen Review Board said Tuesday they found "substantial evidence of error" in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police's decision that the fatal September shooting of Keith Lamont Scott by an officer was justified.

A lawyer for Scott's family appeared before the board Tuesday to appeal CMPD's finding. The department determined in March that Officer Brentley Vinson followed proper procedures when he fatally shot Scott during a Sept. 20 confrontation outside a University City apartment complex, and will not be disciplined.

Scott family attorney, Charles Monnett, III said he was pleased for the opportunity to present their case to the CRB. The presentation happened in a closed-door meeting which took nearly an hour-and-a-half. A representative from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police made a presentation to the Board afterward.

The findings by CMPD after an internal review were sent to the wife of Keith Scott. The report says Officer Brentley Vinson "acted lawfully and in accordance with Department policy" in the deadly September shooting outside a University City apartment complex.

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

The letter gives more detail about Vinson's actions the day Scott was killed.

The letter states Officer Vinson said, "I felt like if I didn't do anything right then at that point, it's like he... he was gonna shoot me or he's gonna shoot one of my buddies and it was gonna happen right now, so I reacted. I was the only one that had a decent backdrop."

The letter was signed by CMPD Chief Kerr Putney and Major Estella Patterson with the Internal Affairs Bureau.

CMPD's decision means that an internal review has found that Vinson shouldn't face termination, suspension or other severe disciplines.

The CRB sided with the family in an 8-2 vote, stating there was evidence of "potential error" regarding CMPD's decision.

"The work of the Citizens Review Board is crucial in ensuring transparency, fairness and accountability," said Sandy D'Elosua Vastola, Charlotte Communications & Marketing Director. "The City of Charlotte respects today's decision by the Citizens Review Board and thanks the members of the board for their service."

Attorneys for the Scott family, Justin Bamberg, Charles Monnett, and Eduardo Curry, released a statement on the board's decision.

We are please with the board's decision, and we are thankful to have had the opportunity to present our side of the story to a select group of Charlotte citizens. This is another step in process, and we are looking forward to the August evidentiary hearing.

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

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

Monnett told WBTV the Scott family is disappointed.

"The family strongly believes that Officer Vinson's use of deadly force was in violation of the department's policy. So it's  difficult for us to understand how the internal affairs review board could have come to this conclusion," he said.

The Board has considered several dozen appeals since its inception in 1997. In every case before Tuesday's Scott hearing, it has ruled in favor of police. The Board has also made recommendations in certain cases on how CMPD could improve policy on issues like body camera usage, said CRB Counsel Julian Wright.

Since 2013, Charlotte City Council has made incremental changes to Board oversight aimed at increasing accountability and providing more investigative materials to the Board.

An evidentiary hearing will be held on August 8 to dig deeper into the case.

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