A Charlotte police officer acted lawfully when he shot and killed a black man at an apartment complex, touching off several nights of unrest in the city, and will not face charges, a North Carolina prosecutor announced on Thursday. Charlotte-Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray spent 40 minutes during a news conference meticulously outlining the evidence that led him and a team of 15 other prosecutors to determine Officer Brentley Vinson’s actions in killing Keith Lamont Scott were justified. He also released his report online.
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Lawyers for Scott’s family say they still have questions and haven’t decided whether to file a lawsuit. Scott’s family has said he wasn’t armed. However, Murray displayed a nearby store’s surveillance video showing the outline of what appeared to be a holstered gun on Scott’s ankle. Officer Brentley Vinson said Scott’s DNA was found on a Colt .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun recovered at the scene. He shared a Facebook conversation from the man who said he sold the stolen gun to Scott and recognized him from TV coverage after the shooting and police radio traffic where officers talked about the gun before confronting Scott.
The prosecutor asked the public to review his findings before protesting again. Two nights of protests after the September shooting led to looted stores near the scene and in downtown Charlotte, millions of dollars of damage and more than two dozen injuries to police officers and others, including one fatal shooting. “The community should read the report. Digest the report. Please do not act viscerally on news snippets,” Murray said. Immediately after the shooting, a video of Scott’s final moments recorded by his wife, Rakeyia, was posted on social media. In it, she could be heard shouting to police that her husband “doesn’t have a gun.”
She pleaded with the officers not to shoot before a burst of gunfire could be heard. Plainclothes officers had gone to the complex about 4 pm on September 20 looking for a suspect with an outstanding warrant when two undercover officers saw Scott not the suspect they were looking for inside a car with a gun and marijuana, Murray said. They left to get backup, then returned to arrest Scott. Officers said Scott exited the SUV with a gun, ignored at least 10 orders to drop the weapon and appeared to be in a trance, Murray said.