NEW: At least 4 protesters are arrested Wednesday night
Scott family attorney: We still have concerns and questions
Scott's DNA was found on the grip of a gun found at the scene, DA says
In response, about 100 protesters marched through downtown’s streets Wednesday night to share their disappointment. Though they carried signs continuing to express outrage – containing messages like “How to get away with murder: become a cop” – the rally was tamer. Police and the press outnumbered protesters, according to CNN’s Ryan Young.
A two-month investigation determined that Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Brentley Vinson was justified in shooting Keith Lamont Scott in an apartment complex parking lot. Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray said he didn’t reach the conclusions alone; a total of 15 prosecutors unanimously agreed with the decision.
The killing led to heated protests and divided the city of Charlotte. Compared to previous demonstrations over Scott’s death, a smaller crowd turned out Wednesday night, about 100 people. At least four people were arrested as police tried to corral protesters off the streets, three for obstructing traffic.
But the protesters’ message was the same as before.
“Stop killing black people,” some protesters’ T-shirts read.
“How to get away with murder: Become a cop,” said the signs.
“If we don’t get no justice then you don’t get no peace,” they chanted.
Setting the record straight
In his hourlong announcement, the district attorney rejected a series of “erroneous claims” made shortly after the shooting. He said those narratives fueled widespread misconceptions about what actually happened.
– Scott’s relatives said he didn’t have a gun, but “all the credible evidence” led to the conclusion that Scott was armed, Murray said. He said Scott’s DNA was on the grip of a gun found at the scene.
Murray also said at least three officers reported seeing Scott holding a gun before he was shot, though dashcam video did not show that detail.
– Shortly before the shooting, Scott visited a local convenience store. There, surveillance video showed a bulge around Scott’s ankle that was consistent with the holster and gun later described by officers, Murray said.
Protesters had initially repeated the remarks of a woman who claimed to have seen a white officer shoot Scott. Later, however, the woman told investigators she hadn’t actually seen the shooting, according to Murray. He noted that Vinson, who is black, was the only officer who shot Scott. He said an analysis of the other officers’ guns showed those guns were fully loaded, while Vinson’s gun was missing several bullets.
Murray said Vinson, who is black, was the only officer who shot Scott. He said an analysis of the other officers’ guns showed those guns were fully loaded, while Vinson’s gun was missing several bullets.
Likewise, Scott’s daughter posted a video on Facebook Live after the shooting that said her father was reading a book inside his car. But the daughter wasn’t a witness and no book was found at the scene, Murray said.
The prosecutor said that officers told Scott at least 10 times to drop the weapon before Vinson opened fire.
Murray said that while criminal charges are not appropriate, “I know some are going to be frustrated.”
He said he met with Scott’s family Wednesday morning to tell them about his decision and said the family was “extremely gracious.”
Scott’s family attorneys: Our work isn’t over
While Vinson won’t face charges, Scott family attorney Charles Monnett said the decision “doesn’t end our inquiry.”
“We still have concerns,” Monnett said. “We still have real questions about what decisions were made that day,” such as whether police could have used better de-escalation techniques that may have prevented Scott’s death.
Another Scott family attorney, Justin Bamberg, acknowledged that “it’s safe to say he did have a gun on his person,” but there was no definitive proof that he had the gun in his hand.
The district attorney said while police reported seeing Scott with both marijuana and a gun, there was no evidence to show Scott raised the gun. Regardless, Murray said, Scott “could have raised his gun at any point” to shoot officers.
Two months of tensions
Scott’s death sparked massive protests – sometimes violent – and fueled the national debate about whether police are too quick to use deadly force, particularly against black men.
The fact that the officer is also black doesn’t matter, some Charlotte residents said.
The deadly encounter started when police said they were looking for a person with an outstanding warrant at an apartment complex. That’s when Scott, 43, exited a vehicle with a gun.
After widespread demands for the release of dashcam video, officials released the footage in October. But it didn’t tell the complete story, such as whether Scott was holding or raising a gun.
The police footage shows an officer in plain clothes with his weapon drawn on Scott. As Scott exits an SUV, he begins walking backward, prompting Vinson to fire four times.
Video taken by Scott’s widow shows a different perspective of what happened – but also doesn’t tell the complete story.
In that video, a man repeatedly yells for someone – apparently Scott – to “drop the gun.”
“He doesn’t have a gun. He has a TBI (traumatic brain injury),” Rakeyia Scott says, referencing an injury Scott suffered in a motorcycle accident. “He’s not going to do anything to you guys. He just took his medicine.”
Tests of Scott’s blood indicated the presence of diazepam, amantadine, babapentin, nicotine, nordiazepam and promethazine. Scott’s family attorney said the drugs were being used to treat Scott’s traumatic brain injury.
CNN’s Emanuella Grinberg, Shawn Nottingham and Ryan Rios contributed to this report.