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Charlotte: Family releases video showing encounter between police, black man

world Updated: Sep 24, 2016 10:41 IST
Charlotte shooting

The video taken by Rakeyia Scott, shows moments after the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina. The wife of the African American man, whose death has triggered days of unrest, on Friday released dramatic video footage of the moments before and after he was shot by police. (AFP)

The family of the African-American man whose death has triggered days of unrest in Charlotte, North Carolina, released a dramatic video of the police shooting on Friday, raising pressure on the authorities to make their own footage public.

The police have refused to release body-cam and dash-cam video of the shooting Tuesday, which they say shows Keith Lamont Scott posed officers a threat.

His death is the latest in a string of police-involved killings of black men that have fuelled outrage across America.

Charlotte has been rocked by three nights of violence-marred protests, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency in the southern US city.

Hundreds of protesters were out again on Friday night calling for the release of the videos amid a greater presence of National Guard troops, but the atmosphere was calmer than during previous days.

A protester holds a banner against the North Carolina National Guard as he marches in the streets of Charlotte on Friday. (AP)

A curfew beginning at midnight (0400 GMT) is in effect for a second night after protesters defied the order on Thursday.

Hundreds of demonstrators were also marching in the southern city of Atlanta in a protest calling for police reform organized by the NAACP, the black community’s main civil rights organization.

Charlotte’s case has also touched the US presidential race, with Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign announcing her plan to visit the city on Sunday before postponing it to a week later after Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts asked both major candidates to delay visits, citing “very stretched resources for security.”

Clinton weighed in about the video issue earlier Friday, tweeting that police should release its footage “without delay.”

Scott was shot and killed during a parking lot encounter with police searching for another person wanted for arrest.

The police say he had a handgun. His family says he was holding a book.

The two minutes and 16 seconds of smartphone footage filmed by Rakeyia Scott, released by her lawyers to AFP and other news media, does not show the shooting itself -- and does not conclusively answer the question of whether he was armed -- but captures the moments surrounding it as she pleads with officers not to open fire.

“Don’t shoot him, he has no weapon! He has no weapon! Don’t shoot him!” she is heard saying.

“He has a TBI, he’s not going to do anything to you guys,” she says, presumably referring to a traumatic brain injury. Neighbors have told AFP the 43-year-old Scott was disabled and had a stutter.

As she records, police are heard yelling “Drop the gun! Drop the gun!”

“Don’t let them break the windows. Come on out the car,” she shouts to her husband.

Four quick gunshots are heard, at which point the phone is pointing away from the shooting.

Moments later, the video shows Scott lying face down on the asphalt surrounded by officers.

“Did you shoot him? Did you shoot him?” Rakeyia Scott screams.

Scott’s family has viewed the police footage and are leading calls for it to be made public.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts told reporters Friday she believes the video should be released -- but that doing so too soon could interfere with the probe by leading witnesses to change their accounts.

The police, too, say premature release of the video might interfere with a parallel state investigation.

“If I were to put it out indiscriminately and it doesn’t give you good context, it can inflame the situation,” Charlotte police chief Kerr Putney argued.

The footage does not provide “absolute definitive visual evidence that would confirm that a person is pointing a gun,” he said earlier, but does indicate the officer was justified in shooting Scott.

“The officer perceived his failure to comply with commands, failure to drop the weapon and facing the officers as an imminent threat,” Putney told Fox News.