Charlotte police shooting audio appears to back up officer
A Charlotte, North Carolina, police officer calls for backup, saying he has spotted a man with a gun and a marijuana joint in his SUV. In follow-up radio traffic, the officer says a suspect has been wounded and is lying on the ground.
The two snippets of audio the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released on Thursday along with a brief 911 call appeared to back up authorities’ assertion that officers believed that the black man, Keith Lamont Scott, had a gun. A black officer fatally shot Scott, 43, last week, sparking violent street protests and prompting the governor to call up National Guard troops, who were stationed on downtown streets.
In the roughly 20-second 911 call, a witness can be heard asking for paramedics and then says they are already arriving. “I can’t stand y’all sorry asses,” he remarks.
The three audio clips, totalling less than two minutes, were released amid growing public demands for more details about Scott’s death. Police on Saturday shared about three minutes of video capturing the Sept. 20 shooting.
Scott’s family has released a video taken by his wife, who was nearby.
In one of the new audio clips, which lasts about 25 seconds, an officer calls for police backup, saying that he has spotted Scott with a gun and a marijuana joint, the reason police have previously stated for engaging Scott. In a later 30-second clip, an officer says shots have been fired and a suspect is lying wounded on the ground.
Police have said officer Brentley Vinson, 26, shot Scott after he refused to drop a pistol as he exited a parked vehicle. The confrontation came at an apartment complex where officers were on a stakeout, waiting to arrest someone else.
The American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP and a media coalition have urged police to release more details — including all the video taken at the scene. The National Bar Association, an organization representing black attorneys and judges, this week became the latest group to say it wanted the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the Scott shooting.
“There is an overwhelming feeling in the African-American community that these shootings are illegal and our system of justice is unjust and less than colour blind,” the group said in a statement. “Much of this distrust can be attributed to the lack of transparency and accountability.”
The group and others, including Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, also have demanded the repeal of a state law taking effect Saturday that will prevent law enforcement agencies from releasing body camera footage without a judge’s order.
Republican legislative leaders and GOP governor Pat McCrory said the new law is an improvement because it establishes a statewide, uniform legal process that leaves the release of footage up to courts rather than politicians.
In an interview with WBTV in Charlotte, police Chief Kerr Putney said Thursday that he’s satisfied with the video that has been released.
“What I’m not going to do is just, because of comments and pressure and politics, allow for something that’s not thoughtful, deliberate, and I’m not going to set a precedent that would put us in conflict, moving forward, with the law,” Putney said.
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