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Charlotte Police to Release Body Cam, Dash Cam Footage; Charlotte Police News Conference This Afternoon. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired September 24, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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REV. CORINE MACK, PRESIDENT NAACP CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG BRANCH: The police accountability and lack of de-escalation has absolutely destroyed families and communities.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Reverend, what do you want to hear from the police department today?
MACK: I would like to hear that those who did not have dash cam and body cams will be disciplined. I would like to hear that they are working on changing policy procedure in terms of how African-Americans are encountered. That there is a de-escalation training and de- escalation policy put in place. I would like to hear that the police chief is apologetic with being so definitive and seemed to be so self- assured that Mr. Scott was a quote, unquote, gunman before the full investigation had been finalized. I think this really is disturbing that the victim, who does not have a voice, to putting himself continually becomes demonized. That's not what we should be doing. We need to be sure about what the facts are before we say anything, especially in the position of being in TV because it's their police officers that are shooting and killing African-Americans. We're talking about police across the country. It's not just here in Charlotte.
HARLOW: Reverend Corine Mack, thank you very much for joining me again. We're waiting for this live press conference in just about half an hour from the Charlotte Police Department. Thank you so much.
It is the top of the hour 4:00 p.m. Eastern. I'm Poppy Harlow coming to you with a special edition of CNN "Newsroom." We are live today from Hofstra University in New York, the site of the first presidential debate.
But our breaking news this hour is, as you can see on your screen, out of Charlotte, North Carolina, where the police department has just announced they will hold a press conference in 30 minutes, 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time, a news conference from the Charlotte PD which has been the target of a lot of anger from the community, as you can see, since that fatal police shooting of Keith Scott on Tuesday.
Right now, you're looking at live images of downtown Charlotte. Several hundred people have gathered. They are calling for the city to let everyone see the dash camera and the body camera video of the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday. The police say Scott had a gun. Scott's family says he did not have a gun. A short time ago, community leaders spoke to reporters.
MACK: Now we're hearing now that the tapes will be released. And that's a good thing. That's the beginning. But it doesn't stop there because there has to be systemic changes. There has to be policy changes. There has to be hard changes in order for the city to truly be safe.
RABBI JUDITH SCHINDLER, CHARLOTTE CLERGY COALITION FOR JUSTICE: You hold the video of Keith Lamont Scott's final moments, a video that is ours. Please release it, please share it. If it is inconclusive, then let us acknowledge that together. Transparency is the best policy. May your questions around that video be our questions? May our concerns for justice be your concerns? May we work on solutions together? May we help Charlotte heal and move forward from brokenness to wholeness to shalom to that peace for which we all so desperately yearn?
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HARLOW: Let me get straight to our Nick Valencia, he joins me on the phone from Charlotte. Nick, what do we expect to hear from the police? They're going to hold this press conference at 4:30. I think bottom line, do we know if they're going to release these videos?
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NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bottom line, the short answer is no. That's been the anticipation all morning long. We heard earlier from the city directly. I spoke to a city spokeswoman, she it told me that they were working aggressively, hard and fast, to try to get as much information out as possible. What we heard when I asked her directly if the tapes would be released today, she told me about 12:00 p.m., that those discussions were going on around then. What we heard and have heard from local affiliates and the president of the NAACP is that the videotapes -- the police videos, at least one dash cam video, at least one body cam video, will be released later today. What we have heard from the police chief leading up until now, he believes -- he didn't think it was a good time to put it out. He said he didn't want to show somebody's worst day. But really Poppy, the demands have not changed since the very beginning. Demonstrators want to see that tape. They want to decide for themselves. What they see with their own eyes. It has been incredibly confusing for the public here because of these competing narratives, that the information being put out by Scott's family and the police putting out a different set of facts. Right now the community really, it seems to be divided on who believes who at this point. Poppy.
HARLOW: And -- so Nick, a major development. You've just said the Charlotte police will release one dash camera video and one body camera video from the shooting of Keith Scott. As we know, the family has been calling for this transparency, saying they want the city and the country, frankly, to see this video. That is all we know at this point in time, correct? That the police will release the video, those two videos. Will those videos be shown at 4:30
[16:05:16] Eastern time, or will they be releasing them later this evening?
VALENCIA: The indication that we got is it's a possibility, a definite possibility. But they haven't given us a specific time line. Only assumption is that the police chief, working on a weekend on a Saturday, calling this unexpected press conference perhaps to deal with the demand. You know, the police department has been criticized for their lack of full transparency and sometimes it is incredibly difficult to get in touch with the police, to get their information. They have been holding these press conferences. They say they try to get in -- about criticisms. They say they try to be as transparent as possible. Even still, they take a resounding amount of criticism, because the tapes simply aren't out. It has been the last several days that we have heard about the possibility, Poppy. And I want to be clear about that. This is not a new rumor. This rumor has just really taken off even more today. Local affiliates now reporting it will happen today, only expectation for this press conference now being just about 25 minutes away from now is that we'll hear something about these tapes, whether or not we will physically see them, how they would be distributed to media, all of that is still unclear. Poppy.
HARLOW: Nick, thank you very much for that reporting. As we await that press conference. Let me bring in my panel, Laura Coates is with us, a legal analyst, a former federal prosecutor and a former AUSA with the Department of Justice. Also law professor Paul Butler, Georgetown University and a former prosecutor is with me.
Laura, let me go to you first. The fact that the city is now going to release this video, what does that tell you about the why? Was anyone able to legally compel them to do so or did they have any legal ground to stand on not to release the video?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR AND FORMER AUSA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: I think that the reason they're releasing the video is because the matter of form and substance. The police chief has already told us essentially what is the content of the video and his basis for not releasing it was based on the fact that he had an ongoing investigation and he wanted to tie up loose ends so that the videos, if they were publicized, would not alter the testimony of somebody who is remembering the video, and not the actual events. So it seems clear that he's probably leaking or releasing it now because those loose ends have been tied. The essentials when this has happened captured and their testimony have been captured and they can go forward. But I don't think he's compelled legally in any respect. This is really the purview of the local police and they're acting clearly on their prerogative and probably by social demands.
HARLOW: Cheryl Dorsey is also with us, she is a retired sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department. Cheryl, this has been days and days of the public and the family of Mr. Scott, calling on the police department to release the video. Should they have done it sooner?
CHERYL DORSEY, RETIRED LAPD POLICE SERGEANT: Absolutely. Because now the problem is, no matter what's viewed on that video, it's going to be suspect. Because the question that begs to be asked now, is they're releasing one video and one dash cam. The inference is that there is more than one video, and one dash cam so are they going to pick and choose what they see? Has it been edited, has it been doctored? It just presents more problems and causes more questions and the credibility of the police chief and police department and the substance of what they're going to show us, is now forever tainted.
HARLOW: Cheryl, just to be clear here, and I do want to ask our team in the control room, Nick Valencia reporter on the ground is still there because you bring up an important point. You say, you know, if they're only releasing one dash camera video and one body camera video, are there more. We don't have any indication that there are more videos than that, Cheryl. What are you specifically referring to?
DORSEY: Well, when they say one video and one dash cam, it sounds like to me, there could be others, and so that's why I am asking. I understand that there was more than one officer on scene. You know, when officers show up to do a search warrant, we come as a squad. And so the fact that they would release one of each causes problems for me to question, are there more and are the angles different and is it that these others may show something that could cause more anger and angst in the community in terms of what the protesters are doing in acting out based on things that they're hearing.
HARLOW: Paul Butler, I think it's an important to note the timing. The state of North Carolina passed a law that a time frankly, didn't get a lot of attention, but certainly is now. The law saying that come October 1st, which is next week, police departments in the state will not have to release this video to the public. That it can be viewed as private and part of a personnel file and therefore not sort of -- the public does not have a right to know and it's at the discretion of the police chiefs whether or not to release the video. That law has not been enacted yet. Do you believe that is what compelled them to release the video? That they didn't have the legal ground frankly not to?
PAUL BUTLER, PROFESSOR GEORGETOWN LAW SCHOOL: I don't think so. Again, I think that somebody from the justice department got on the phone with the mayor or with the police chief and said, what's going on? Is there any coherent law enforcement purpose to you not
[16:10:16] releasing this video? The citizens of Charlotte are marching in the street, demanding access to public records. Is there any governmental reason not to give citizens access to the reasons why the police are shooting people in their names. So I think that the concern is not politics -- not law, but again, responding to the people marching in the streets in Charlotte.
HARLOW: Laura, from a civil rights perspective, when you look at the Department of Justices' monitoring of the situation, they have said it's not an official act of investigation. They're monitoring it. Walk us through what that means. What would they be doing? What would the Department of Justice officials be doing? Are they on the ground in Charlotte, what questions are they asking at this point? COATES: They will run a pseudo parallel investigation. You said the term official investigation when it comes to the bureaucracy means a devotion of financial resources. Remember, for the Department of Justice, the FBI is the entity. The Federal Bureau of Investigation that helps to interview and investigate claims. So that would mean they launched the FBI. So to have a monitoring system, it would mean they're going to have lawyers from the department, from the division who are on the ground, doing informal interview to people, figuring out who would have been an eyewitness, whether or not there have been other complaints against the Charlotte Police Department for being overly aggressive. How many instances of over or excessive force have been used or documented. What is the feeling of the community in terms of their community police relations? And whether or not there are some forms or system in place with the court that leads to more aggressive policing of a particular race, in this case black people. So what they're doing is trying to get their ducks in a row to figure out, look, do we have a civil rights hook here. And if the prosecution in Charlotte decides not to press charges and decides not to indict, do we need to step in as the backstop and protector of civil rights to try to investigate and launch a color of law claim. We're not there yet. They're simply gathering information. And one important thing to note, Poppy, as skeptical as the people of Charlotte may be towards the police department, the very nature of the civil rights division and its attorneys is to be skeptical of any police department who is in charge of policing themselves. They will come with a fury of skepticism, but also with the interest towards figuring out do I have an objective reason to be here and use taxpayer dollars to launch an FBI investigation.
HARLOW: Right. Laura Coates, thank you very much, also Cheryl Dorsey with the LAPD formerly and Paul Butler. Thank you guys very much. Stay with me, much more on these breaking news ahead.
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HARLOW: We continue to follow this breaking news out of Charlotte, North Carolina. We are waiting a press conference there. The police chief set to speak at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time, that's in just about 15 minutes. Obviously this comes at a time of heightened tension across the city of Charlotte, a major rally under way right now. I want to take you to our Ed Lavandera, he is in the midst of it. Ed, have the people around you been told that the police are going to hold a press conference? And what do they expect to hear? What do they want to hear from the police?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they want to hear is very clear and is simple. There have been chants of "release the tape" throughout the afternoon here as this group of probably around 500 people or so have been marching through the streets of downtown Charlotte, about a four-mile march in all and stopping in various parts of downtown. One of those stops included a stop right there in front of the police department. And the chants of "release the tape, release the tape" have been loud and clear from this group as well as some other things like they want an end to the curfew and they want to see the removal of the National Guard here in Charlotte, as well. But the tapes, is really the focus of many of the protesters here today as they have seen the video released by the attorneys for the Scott family, the video that was shot by Keith Scott's wife yesterday.
Obviously, many people have many more questions about what happened and depending on who you talk to, there is a -- there is a great deal of distrust about what the official line has been coming from the police department. But obviously, many people who want to see this release of this dash cam and police body cam footage, as well.
However, as the police chief has been saying over the last few days, in his view, the tapes don't definitively show or answer all of the questions that people may have when they see the incidents. So in many ways, he had been saying that he believed it would raise more questions than answers for many people. But despite all of that, there have been loud calls -- not only just from protesters, but from various visuals. The Attorney General here in North Carolina calling for the release of that as well, Hillary Clinton has stepped in and has spoken about that as well. So the chants and the calls for this video to be released have been growing stronger and stronger over the last few days. And in less than about ten minutes or so, when the chief of police here in Charlotte holds that press conference, a great deal of focus on that anticipation for whether or not this is the time that authorities here in North Carolina will release those videos.
HARLOW: Ed, thank you. Stay with me and I just want to check with the control room. Guys, do we have Nick Valencia with us still? Nick Valencia, I want to go to you Nick because I want to clarify something that was said on the air just a few moments ago. We said that the Charlotte Police Department is indeed releasing the dash camera video and body camera video. I'm now hearing that it is an expectation that they will, but then it is not 100 percent confirmed. Which is it?
Nick Valencia, Poppy Harlow here, making sure you can hear me. You said on the air moments ago that -
VALENCIA: Poppy, we spoke to the city a little while ago, and they are saying they were working as hard and fast as possible to put out as much information as possible. But we haven't -- we haven't heard definitely yet, just a matter of ten minutes or so before the police chief gets in front of the media. I could hear you. I'm not sure you could hear me.
HARLOW: I can hear you, Nick. Go ahead.
[16:20:16] All right. We are lost - lost our connection with Nick Valencia there. But again, he was saying the expectation is that the Charlotte Police Department may release the dash camera video, and the body camera video from the shooting death of Keith Scott. But it is not 100 percent confirmed. I believe we misreported that before and my apologies for that. But again, we'll hear what the police have to say at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. As we await the press conference, I want to go to Reverend William Barber, the state chapter president of North Carolina NAACP. He wrote an opinion piece in the "New York Times," called "Why we are protesting in Charlotte." Let me read you part of it. He writes, "I must condemn the militarization of Charlotte by the authorities who do not want to address the fundamental concerns of protesters. For black lives to matter in encounters with the police, they must also matter in public policy." Reverend William Barber joins me now on the phone. Thank you so much for being with me, a fascinating, insightful and important opinion piece in the "New York Times." Let's talk about the news, what you want to hear from the Charlotte police at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
REV. WILLIAM BARBER, NORTH CAROLINA NCAAP STATE CHAPTER PRESIDENT: Well, thank you so much sister Harlow. Let's talk about where we started. We started with this shooting right after what happened in Tulsa. And immediately there were great concerns and there was a differing of opinions of what had happened. We had three scenarios from the beginning that were possibilities. One, that an unarmed African-American male had been shot and that there could have been a conspiracy of black and white police to cover it up. Number two, there could have been an armed African-American shot, which is not a crime in North Carolina, because we're an open carry state. Or number three, there was an armed African-American who had wielded his gun in a way that was violent toward the police and was shot. And no one knew which of those scenarios was true.
We then had the chief of police to come on -- it's called the man a gunman, but then later on have to say that the tapes were not conclusive. We also had the chief of police say that there were some body cameras, according to what I've been told by the local ministers and the people on the ground, who have done such a tremendous job. There were some body cameras that were actually not on. That people had but were not on.
So what we have said is there has to be transparency in order for there to be truth. There is nothing legally wrong with releasing the tape. It does not impact the investigation negatively. The tape should be released. They are the property of the public. These officers are servants of the public. And that's what we want. We want transparency. The tapes released. We now have all of these subsequent tapes and eyewitnesses that are out here. We want -- we are calling for a federal investigation. We know they are monitoring, but we are hoping that there will be a federal investigation, because this is not just about this case. Remember Jonathan Ferrell, was killed and there wasn't even - prosecution -- a hung jury and there has not been a retrial. So there is great angst in this community and hurt and is pain in this regard.
HARLOW: Let's talk about the community as a whole and relations with the Charlotte Police Department and the communities that they police before this. Was that an area of concern, reverend, beforehand?
BARBER: Yes. Yes, deep concerns. I said you've had the case of Jonathan Ferrell in Charlotte in North Carolina. Overall, we've been a state that over the last few years have had six to seven African- American men who've been exonerated from death row, who would have been dead if the system had worked quicker, which means we would have killed innocent black men.
Just yesterday, we had a press conference in front of the governors, calling for the pardon of two African-American men, Kevin Michael Smith and Dontae Sharpe, who have been in jail, wrongfully incarcerated for more than 20 years, half of their lives. We have a governor who just signed a law put forth by the Republican Party that was resisted by the Attorney General and others and even the clergy community, saying that we want to be able to withhold videos, and the governor signed those very things.
We have a state that has -- that has fostered suppression, surgical attempts to suppress the vote. We have suppressed medic aid expansion for 500,000 people, allowing over 1,000 people a year to die because of that. We have suppressed the LGBTQ community. We have had a governor and legislature that suppressed the living wage movement and suppressed immigrant rights. Attempted to make it easier to get a gun than it was to get a voter registration card. And so in a
[16:25:16] culture of suppression and a culture of suppression and regression you have to have transparency in these matters.
HARLOW: Reverend, what could the police department say and do, in your opinion, at this press conference at any moment that would assuage your concerns about a lack of transparency? Clearly you're talking about many, many, you know, systemic concerns that you have in underlying issues. But what is it you want to hear today from them?
BARBER: Well, we called on -- this is what -- it's a time for unity. We called on the governor, the Attorney General, the mayor, the police chief and the prosecutor to all come together in unity and say we'll release the tapes. Everybody should do that. This should not be a source of disunity. And they could do that. And we hope that is what is done. We hope it's not also piecemeal. A little bit here and a little bit there. That just continues to foster more concern and distrust.
And secondly, stop saying on the one hand that you were doing it because the family -- it would hurt the family. The family has said release them. The families have released their own tape. And now we know that we had a situation where the wife said, my husband has a TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury. Don't shoot him. Don't kill him. So the family is not against it. Now there is change -- it's a legal matter. But more and more legal scholars are saying there is nothing that would preclude or prohibit legally from that happening. We surely don't want to wait seven days until the new law goes into effect and then say, well, we can't do it now.
It's time for these tapes to be released. It's time for there to be a full and thorough independent investigation. Let me say one more thing your audience may not know. It was reported that the FBI -- the police -- I think the local authorities asked for the FBI to come in. Actually, in North Carolina, if I'm not mistaken, the family in these issues can request the FBI. And they did that. So it's not as though the authorities have come in -- the family requested it. Also in our state, the legislature, the Republican legislature and the governor removed the FBI from the Attorney General's office. So the top law enforcement officer, who also is calling for openness and transparency, does not control the FBI. The FBI is controlled by the governor and a few years back, the FBI crime labs were found guilty of misuse -- in DNA evidence.
HARLOW: Reverend William Barber, the president of North Carolina's NAACP, thank you very much for joining us. I do need to get a quick break in here so we can be back right when this police conference does begin in just a few moments, live from Charlotte. Stay with us.
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[16:30:15] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Breaking news. We have just learned that the Charlotte Police Department will definitively release the tapes that they have of the shooting death of Keith Scott.
Nick Valencia is with me at the press conference. Nick, what do we know about what tapes they will release? Because you just heard the concern of my last guest, asking, you know, which of the tapes? All of the tapes? Some of the tapes? Dash camera, body camera? What will we see?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We know at least four officers responded and were involved in the shooting. But at least one officer who fired this fatal shot.
According to the governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, just a few minutes ago releasing a statement to the media, and I quote, "As governor of North Carolina, I concur with the Charlotte police chief's decision to release the tapes. I have been assured by the state bureau of investigation that the release will have no material impact on the independent investigation since most of the known witnesses have been interviewed."
He continues by saying, "We have appreciated the ongoing dialogue and teamwork between state and city officials to seek public transparency while protecting the integrity of the investigation and the rights of all parties involved in this case."
And Poppy, I want to throw it back to you because we're seeing Chief Kerr Putney step to the microphone right now. This press conference appears that it's about to get under way.
HARLOW: Nick -- Nick, thank you very much. Thank you, Nick. Let's -- listen in, because -- let's listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm with the Public Affairs Office with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. Wanted to kind of walk everyone through this afternoon what we're going to be doing and how this is going to develop. We're going to give you a snap shot. In just a couple of moments I'm going to invite Chief Kerr Putney up to the lectern. He's going to go over some additional information that we wanted to release. Some clarifications that we wanted to make. And then discuss some specific evidence that we want to release.
When he's through, we're going to go ahead. We'll open up to as many questions as we could possibly facilitate and do our best to get those questions answered. So without further delay, Chief Kerr Putney.
CHIEF KERR PUTNEY, CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG POLICE: Good afternoon. First of all, my thoughts and prayers go out to the Scott family and the family of all of our officers who have been impacted. These are tough times for our city, but we're going to get through it.
Throughout the entire process, and that's really what I'm talking about, is the sequence of events that got us here. The process that led us to being able to release additional evidence and video footage that will explain I believe are the absolute facts which have not changed.
My priority has been throughout the whole investigative process to maintain the integrity of the investigation. Because that's essential. That's essential in a fact-finding process that leads you to the truth. As stated throughout the process, that I was unwilling to deviate from that stance.
Well, today, after having a conversation with the state bureau of investigations, the lead agency in investigation at this point, I have decided that we're at a stage where I can release additional information without adversely impacting their investigation. So now it is appropriate to release this information.
Doing so prior to this point would have had a negative impact on the integrity of the investigation that they were conducting independent of CMPD. What I'll let you know is, we were starting our investigation, obviously, Tuesday, after the incident. And then Thursday we're in a position where, you know, two days later we had a lot of facts and we're ready to present those facts.
I am the custodian of that information and could release them at that point. However, during the course of those two days, the family requested to the district attorney's office that we have an independent investigation. That being the state bureau of investigations. After that has been -- had been made known to me, we transitioned our files, all documents, all evidence over to them to conduct their independent investigation.
As I said before, CMPD remains the custodial -- the functional custodian of the evidence. Therefore, I do have the authority to release. And now that it won't impact the investigation, we're going to do just that.
It is also my understanding that the release at this point is appropriate not to taint the fact-finding mission that the SBI has been conducting over the last two day.
[16:35:13] I believe it's in the community's best interest, obviously. I felt that way Thursday and I definitely feel that way today. But what we're releasing are the objective facts. What we're giving you is the most complete puzzle that we can without trying the case out in public. And I committed to you -- to everybody that I would not do that. And I'm going to do that, as well. I'm going stick to it.
And it's a complex case. All of them are. It's an officer-involved shooting. It's a tragic loss of life. And what I can tell you is there is no single piece of evidence that proves all the complexities involved in this investigative process relative to this case.
As I said, it's a tragic -- it's a tragic incident. We as a community have some work to do. I know there is some distrust. We've been working on that diligently for quite a while now. But obviously there's more work to be done.
In the spirit of transparency, you're going to get everything that we can deliver. Facts, footage and an explanation of where we stand today relative to the investigation. At this point, I'll take your questions.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, can you say clearly that you don't have any question, are you planning on releasing these two -- these videos that we know -- the governor just said that you decided to do so.
PUTNEY: Indeed I have and indeed I will. The body cam footage, body- worn camera footage and the dash cam footage, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Sir, Associated Press. Why are there only two bits of video when there were several officers on the scene?
PUTNEY: Sure. These are the specific -- this is the specific footage that gives you some visual of what is transpiring. There is a lot of footage that would be showing you people traveling towards the scene, but nothing relative to the incident. And the other thing is that there will be more footage that will be released once the investigation is complete. And there has been a definitive decision on the part of the prosecutor. That's when everything else can be released for viewing and consumption.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, you mentioned additional evidence. Anything other than the videos that you're releasing and can you tell us anything about -- you indicated there would be more.
PUTNEY: Sure. We're releasing physical evidence, we're talking about DNA evidence. We're talking specific to a lot of the -- listen. We all know there is a lot of stuff floating out there about what has happened, what was not on-scene. Was it a book? Is there a gun? We're releasing evidence that we -- we believe, based on our fact- finding mission, that it will give you indisputable evidence that the facts we started with are the facts that remain today based on two independent investigations up until this point.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, people are asking why (INAUDIBLE)?
PUTNEY: Absolutely. And all of that is under review. Our tactical units don't all have body-worn cameras at this point. We have -- we have an ongoing process to outfit all of our officers so that when they're on duty or off duty, working secondary employment, they will have body cams and a part of that is all units, all functional units and even our tactical units moving forward.
We're working through that. We've tried to be intentional because not -- it is me. My concern is showing tactics and locations of officers who were doing a lot of the high-risk encounters. But the counter to that is why we're here today. Unfortunately, I have to do everything I can to protect our people. Even if it doesn't feel good.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, you alluded (INAUDIBLE) you want to be exactly clear.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yesterday you seemed to suggest it might be a while -- you didn't say when -- before the tapes were released. What exactly changed?
PUTNEY: What exactly changed is what I need is confirmation that when I release what I'm going to release, there is no adverse impact on the State Bureau of Investigation's investigation. And I have that assurance now. I did not have that assurance prior to.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does that mean that the State Bureau of Investigation -- they signed off on (INAUDIBLE) yesterday? They were OK with it?
PUTNEY: I'm sorry?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That they were OK with this. If they found out --
PUTNEY: They have given me assurance that it would not adversely impact their investigation.
[16:40:03] As far as signed off on, I am the custodian, and I'm going to release as soon as I can. All I needed to know is will it impact the integrity of the investigation. They said no. So we're here today giving you everything that we can -- we can distribute at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You've seen the video, obviously. Are you concerned about putting the video out and what -- people can make their own decision about this video, as well?
PUTNEY: Here's what I can tell you. I stand behind the truth. People can interpret anything they want based on one piece of evidence. And I can tell you, I suspect they will, based on the video footage. But what I say is, you have to put all pieces together. We interviewed on a lot of people. We've interviewed all of our officers involved and the consistent themes were the facts. And that's what I stand behind.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And those facts you think your officers did the right thing? They followed protocol? PUTNEY: I -- what I can tell you is if laws were violated, I would be
taking different action. I won't get into policy because that's another parallel investigation that's internal.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We have seen hundreds of protesters taking to the street over the last few days. Did their protests, their message calling for the release of this video impact this decision at all?
PUTNEY: What impacted this decision is the information I've been getting from this community all along. As soon as you appropriately can release the video. And that's what I was going to do anyway. Our policy is when we can release information that won't be detrimental to the investigation itself, we release. And what I can tell you, too, is I just want to remind people is, we're four days after the incident. We're talking about two independent investigations. And they take time. I'm going to -- I'm going to -- I'm going to insist we do it right. Not fast.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So did this have anything to do with Keith Scott's wife's video coming out yesterday? That cell phone video?
PUTNEY: Ma'am, listen. Our practice and our protocol is to release as soon as we can to inform. What is out there, I can't control. Nor am I concerned about. I'm standing behind the facts, and today, because it won't impact the second investigation being conducted, nor ours, I'm releasing it because it's appropriate to do so. There are no other factors that influence that. There is a lot of information out there but the only pressure I had is to make sure our people get it when I can give it to them in a way that I can maintain the integrity of what I'm charged with doing.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When can we expect to see the tapes?
PUTNEY: The link to the footage -- I say tapes, too. But I think we've progressed a little bit. The footage that will be in a Web link to you and that should be coming out very, very soon. I would say within the next half hour.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, earlier you said transparency is in the eyes of the beholder.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is it your expectation that with the release of this footage will calm the city of charlotte?
PUTNEY: Well, I can tell you this. There are some people, regardless of what they see -- and here's the thing. Everybody goes back to the footage. 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, physical evidence, the statements from witnesses and officers, and all of the other information, scientific and physical, that create the entire picture. So the video footage is insufficient. I've been very clear.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Just remind us of how this all began. Was this initially a case of mistaken identity?
PUTNEY: No, sir. But all of that will be laid out, too. What I can say is, there was a compelling reason for them to make this encounter. It was beyond a possession of a gun. It was because of criminal activity that heightened their level of awareness, and they had to -- things were focused from the priority of taking a warranted suspect off the street to encountering Mr. Scott.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So you're saying Mr. Scott definitely did have a gun and are there any officers being charged?
PUTNEY: Officers are absolutely not being charged by me at this point. But, again, there is another investigation ongoing. And yes, based on the totality of what we see, he absolutely was in possession of a handgun.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, when the other video -- there is a lot of conversation about couldn't see the gun on the pavement. Was the gun underneath Mr. Scott? Was it underneath the foot of one of the other officers? Will we be able to see that in the video?
PUTNEY: I respect that question. I'm not trying the case here. I'm not trying the case here. You have to make your own judgments. And I've -- the process is not done. And I'm not going to try the case today.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you giving us the statements of some of the officers?
PUTNEY: No, ma'am. I'm going to give you a layout of sequentially what happened because that, again, is presentation for if this case were to go to court. That's when it is discoverable. Not before.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, the city attorney's office, two days ago, told us that officers were not in the process of trying to arrest or detain Mr. Scott at the time that he was shot. So what then would you say to officers --
[16:45:02] PUTNEY: I'm sorry. Repeat that, please?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The city attorney's office, Thursday afternoon told us.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That officers were not trying to arrest or detain Mr. Scott at the time that he was shot by police. What then were officers doing when they approached the vehicle and asked him to get out of the car?
PUTNEY: I'll have to let you see the facts because I can tell you they were intentionally detaining Mr. Scott. That is how we got here.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Well, so then why did the city attorney's office tell us otherwise?
PUTNEY: I would -- I'd have to defer that question to them.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So they were trying to detain him at that time?
PUTNEY: That is the only way you can actually arrest somebody, so absolutely, sir. I don't know what their interpretation is. I can't speak for them. I don't have a law degree. But they'll have to address the concerns you have relative to what they have said.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, how much video was recorded during the incident and how much will we see today?
PUTNEY: You will see -- you will not see all that was recorded today. You will see what is pertinent, specifically where it starts and where it ends up with the end of the shooting, to be quite frank.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you have about a time frame? What --
PUTNEY: I do not because it's two different videos. But we're releasing everything through that -- through that point. And the reason we're doing that is the rest of it is, again, going to be coming out as the process ends, not during the investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, sources have told us when you talk about the DNA, was Mr. Scott's DNA recovered on the firearm? And since today is a new day, I'll ask you again. Was it lawful for him to possess the firearm?
PUTNEY: It was not lawful, given the circumstances. But what I can tell you is, the reason I say that is, what I'll say is there was a crime omitted that caused the encounter. And then the gun exacerbated that situation. And you'll see -- go ahead, I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Previous to the incident?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Was it lawful for him to possess that weapon?
PUTNEY: Previous --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Or do you say during the incident it became unlawful?
PUTNEY: OK. Here's what I'll tell you. And, again, I'm not trying to -- I'm trying to be transparent. The reason for the encounter is because laws were broken. And the possession of a weapon with that law violation caused the officers to escalate their attention on to him. They were specifically looking for somebody wanted. That's why they were there. And to be quite honest with you, what I'm going to tell you is, there's marijuana there that they weren't focused on and they saw him with it until a gun was produced.
And you'll see all of that. I don't want to get into -- I want you to read it for yourself so you can see specifically why I say the facts are the facts and they will not change. VALENCIA: Chief, it's unfortunate, whether we see the video or not,
people have made up their minds.
PUTNEY: Yes, sir.
VALENCIA: It's pretty split. I want you to address the sentiment that these two key narratives, one from the Scott family, one from the police, he didn't have a gun, he had a book. He had a gun. What's it like to put out facts as a police chief and have people still not believe what the police are saying here in the city of Charlotte?
PUTNEY: It's like -- it depends. Because I can tell you the vast majority of people I'm hearing about wanted this day to get here just as badly as I did. They want to see the factual, objective facts. And that's what we're presenting. So it's disappointing and it's a little frustrating that you can't release more, but I'm not going to sacrifice the integrity of the investigation because I'm not a (INAUDIBLE) person. But how does that feel? It's disappointing, but it's part of what we do. A lot of what these officers who put their lives on the line every day have to deal with this. There are some people who won't appreciate it, regardless of whether or not they're doing what they should be or not.
VALENCIA: And when the family and the family's attorney continues to say that he was unarmed, they don't see a gun. We spoke to a coalition of clergy earlier today that said they saw black gloves, and they didn't see a gun.
PUTNEY: All I say is I'll stand by the facts. I'm not going to debate it. I'm not going to try the case. That's not my role. Facts speak for themselves.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, a second ago you said that Mr. Scott produced a firearm. Did he make any motion to point that gun at the officers and can we see that in the video?
PUTNEY: I've already talked about that. There is no definitive visual evidence that he had a gun in his hand. You can see something in his hand. And that he pointed it at an officer. That I did not visually see in the video. But what we do see is compelling evidence that when you put all the pieces together, support that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, you indicate that you're going to release portion of the video and that the rest of the video will be released later. But on October 1st, the law changes here, and you won't be allowed under law to release the video. So is it accurate that you will be releasing --
PUTNEY: What I can --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Before October 1st?
PUTNEY: You're right. I misspoke. What can happen after October 1st and I'm sure nobody in this room will do it, but they can go to court in front of a judge and request. That would be the process. But the other side is, if I want release it, so can I. [16:50:02] But again, right now let's deal with where we are now. And
by October 1st, I can tell you we'll be much more -- in a much better place to address that question than we are today. But the intent is, listen, when I'm done with the investigation and they make their determination about whether or not this rises to the level of a case that will be prosecuted, my intent is to give up everything legally that I can and be done with this process.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You mentioned that you're the custodian right now.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Of the video. Even though FBI is leading the investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So will you remain the custodian of the video?
PUTNEY: Yes. Yes. And as you said, the law changes as far as what I can release. Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You said he shouldn't have had the weapon. Is that because he was convicted felon?
PUTNEY: Listen. I'm not going to try this case today. But there are reasons he should -- there are reasons our officers acted appropriately in seeing what he was doing, breaking the law, and having that weapon. That's what I'm saying.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But are you saying he was legally prohibited from having the weapon?
PUTNEY: That's not what I'm saying, no. Sir?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What crime did he commit? I don't think you've said what crimes he actually committed.
PUTNEY: Well, one of which is possessing marijuana. That's what I said. But when you're in possession of marijuana and then you have a gun, that's a public safety issue that our officers were going to address. Sir?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, was the marijuana possession the only thing that drew your officers' attention to Mr. Scott?
PUTNEY: No. What I've said was, that was the first thing they saw. That that was not the priority. They were still focused on apprehending the suspect. When they see the weapon, and they see the marijuana, they say, uh-oh, this is a safety issue for us and the public. We need to address this before we try to serve a warrant.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So any time he was smoking marijuana and was the gun registered in his --
PUTNEY: I did not say any of that. I said he was in possession of marijuana --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How (INAUDIBLE)?
PUTNEY: they were conducting surveillance, trying to serve a warrant. I'm sorry. Conducting surveillance. Trying to serve a warrant. They see -- their car is closely parked and they look in the car and they see the marijuana. They don't act, they see the gun, and they think they need to.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How many witnesses saw the incident and have you interviewed them all?
PUTNEY: We have interviewed all available witnesses that would talk to us. I don't know what that specific number is, but we can find out.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, even if -- insist there was a gun, why shoot to kill? Why was the man actually killed? Even if he was in possession of a gun. And why does this keep happening across the United States?
PUTNEY: OK. The first question, why do we shoot to kill? We don't. We shoot to stop the aggressive act that justifies our use of lethal force. Our shooting is to stop the aggressive act or the imminent threat of such act. That's why we shoot. What happens across the country, I can't control. And I wish I could have controlled this incident right here at home, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You know, the police force have said things that are going to change in the United States, we're going to look into this, there's going to reforms but it keeps happening.
PUTNEY: I'm not telling you what's going to change in the country. I'm just telling you that the engagement opportunities in the work we're doing and we'll continue to do here, to impact the level of trust. The outcomes of shootings, sir, I wish I could control. But I can't.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But chief, to follow up on that, you began by saying your thoughts and prayers are with the Scott family.
PUTNEY: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you assure his seven children and his wife that every effort was made to avoid using lethal force?
PUTNEY: Sir, what I can tell you is this. Every encounter people can make a decision, right, to follow lawful, loud, verbal commands and prevent some things like this. That's what I can tell you. Can I give assurances to anyone of hypotheticals? No, sir. I wish I could. But I'm --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But this case -- his family, can you confidently say every effort was made to avoid that?
PUTNEY: As I can tell you, they were reacting to what they saw. And they have a duty to do so. So in the encounter, they perceive an imminent lethal threat by a handgun and they react to that. That's what I can tell you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to take two more. This young lady over here hasn't gotten one.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, when officers go to apprehend a suspect, is it protocol to serve the surrounding vehicles and question people around them? Is that protocol?
PUTNEY: I'm sorry. There are --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When officers go to apprehend a suspect.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When they get there, is it protocol to search surrounding vehicles and other people that are around the area?
PUTNEY: Context is going to matter. In this particular case, as I said, they see somebody who has marijuana, they say that's not a priority for the suspect they're after. Then they see the handgun, so they focus their attention on Mr. Scott at that point. In broad scenarios are going to be hard to really capture when --
[16:55:02] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Chief, where did they see the handgun and how many officers fired shots?
PUTNEY: They saw the handgun initially when he was in the vehicle. And we know of only one officer that fired at this point and, again, those are details that some of which are still ongoing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys, we appreciate you. We're going to get him back to work. Just wanted to take care of some housekeeping. Reference to the video, accompanying that video there are going to be a number of images that are going to be released. We have public affairs officers here on site that will work with you all. But for those of you who we don't have in our media distribution list, we're going to go ahead and get those e-mails out.
The videos will come in a video link format that you'll get to all of our locals and any network affiliates who feel like they're not part of our media distribution list, please see me and/or our public affairs people here. Thank you, guys. We appreciate it.
HARLOW: All right. There you have it. A major announcement from the Charlotte Police Department.
I want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Poppy Harlow. As we approach the top of the hour, major breaking news on CNN that the Charlotte Police Department will indeed release both body camera video and dash camera video of the shooting death on Tuesday in Charlotte, North Carolina, of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott.
A lot to get to here. I want to bring in my panel to discuss. Tom Fuentes, senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director is with. So is Laura Coates, our legal analyst, a former federal prosecutor, and a former assistant U.S. attorney with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. Cheryl Dorsey is with us, retired sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department, as well.
Guys, I want to highlight for our viewers some of the key points that we just heard from the chief of police, and Paul Butler is also with us, as well. One of the key headlines that we heard here is that they will release the body camera video and the dash camera video, only the specific footage the Police Chief Kerr Putney said that gives us a visual of what transpired. Meaning they're not releasing all of the different video angles from that shooting death.
What else we heard from the official Twitter account is that the video they are about to release will also include details about what led officers to approach Mr. Scott. Why they went up to his vehicle in the first place on Tuesday. You heard the police chief saying, I'm not going to try and he spoke about DNA evidence, other physical evidence, that will be released.
Let me start first with you, Tom Fuentes, former FBI assistant director. Why not release every single piece of footage that this police department has?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know, Poppy, that's a great question. And I think the problem is that if he doesn't, he hasn't accomplished everything that needs to be accomplished as far as what people are asking for. And that's the problem.
You know, it sounds like we're going to continue to have dribs and drabs of either video footage or other information come out, and it doesn't help. Especially if he's already saying it may be inconclusive, that's going to be a problem right there. So I think that just saying that they're not releasing everything, you know, is a problem in and of itself. And especially if he's going to release the key video that shows the gun or shows the encounter at the car before Scott gets out of the car or after he gets out, then what are the other videos going to be that are any more important than that that they need to be held back? So I don't understand.
HARLOW: OK. The prompter is wrong -- I believe we also have Nick Valencia, our correspondent with us, who was in the room for that press conference.
Nick, are you with me?
VALENCIA: I am, Poppy. How are you?
HARLOW: OK. Nick, I think what stands out to me most are two things from this press conference. One that they're only going to release a select number of videos, what sounds like two videos. Not all of the other camera angles, and secondly, that the police chief said that no single piece of evidence proves all the complexities of this case. He is saying that what you see on the video does not tell the full story here. But he also, Nick, didn't outline the facts. He could have gotten up
there and said, here's what we know, here's what we saw, here's what happened. He did not do that. Why?
VALENCIA: He said he didn't want to get into a debate about the facts. That it wasn't his position to try this case in front of the media. But he did want to make clear that he has been consistent since the very beginning. That his set of facts, although they are in stark contrast with what the family narrative has been put out, have remained the same. He says that his officers, as far as he's concerned from his department will not be charged. He doesn't know of any charges being brought against the officers.
He was asked about the justification of use of force. We have heard from police officials that Keith Scott made a bad decision that cost him his life. That he was acting aggressively towards police officers.
Some of the new things that we heard during this press conference is also the discovery of marijuana in possession of Keith -- that Keith Scott was in possession of. They observed him while he was --