Charlotte’s police chief announced Saturday that he would release body and dashboard camera footage of the shooting of a black man after several days of demonstrations that have coalesced around demands that the public see the video. Chief Kerr Putney said at a news conference that the video would be made available through a web link in a news release that was coming out shortly after he addressed the media. He said that and other evidence they were releasing would corroborate their account of how things unfolded, including that Keith Lamont Scott was holding a gun when he was shot. He addressed reporters hours after several hundred demonstrators took to the street for a fifth day of protests in Charlotte’s central business district.
Putney said that he decided to release the footage after receiving assurances from the State Bureau of Investigation that it would not impact their independent probe of the shooting. Asked whether he expected the footage to calm protesters, Putney responded: “The footage itself will not create in anyone’s mind absolute certainty as to what this case represents and what the outcome should be. The footage only supports all of the other information” such as physical evidence and statements from witnesses and officers.
Still, the video hadn’t been released as of an hour after the news conference. At his news conference, Putney said that his officers didn’t break the law but noted that the State Bureau of Investigation is continuing its investigation. “Officers are absolutely not being charged by me at this point, but again, there’s another investigation ongoing,” he said. Putney said that Scott was “absolutely in possession of a handgun,” and that officers also saw marijuana in his car _ prompting them to act.
Amid anxiety and unease over the shooting of Scott, demonstrations in Charlotte have gone from violent to peaceful, although demands to see video of the encounter remained at the forefront of discussions for those taking to the streets.
Many of the hundreds massed outside at the Charlotte police department building on Saturday afternoon chanted the name “Keith Scott.” The 43-year-old black man was shot to death by a black officer earlier in the week, and police have not released dashcam and body camera video.
They also chanted, “No tapes, no peace” and raised signs including one reading “Stop Killing The Black People.” Community organizers have said they expected that protests would continue in some form until the videos were released.
The city has been on edge ever since Scott’s shooting death on Tuesday. The demonstrations reached a violent crescendo on Wednesday before the National Guard was called in a day later to maintain order.
The next two nights of protests were free of property damage and violence, with organizers stressing a message of peace at the end of the week.
Charlotte is the latest U.S. city to be shaken by protests and recriminations over the death of a black man at the hands of police, a list that includes Baltimore, Milwaukee, Chicago, New York and Ferguson, Missouri.
Earlier in the week, the Charlotte protests turned violent, with demonstrators attacking reporters and others, setting fires and smashing windows of hotels, office buildings and restaurants.
Forty-four people were arrested after Wednesday’s protests, and one protester who was shot died at a hospital Thursday. City officials said police did not shoot 26-year-old Justin Carr. A suspect was arrested, but police provided few details.
On Thursday, protests were largely peaceful after National Guard members came to the city to help keep order and the mayor imposed a curfew.