Outside review by 15 former prosecutors unanimously concludes shooting was lawful
No charges are to be filed against the police officer who shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott last September in Charlotte NC, announced Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray today, reports CNN and other news outlets.
Both Scott and the officer who shot him, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Brentley Vinson, are black.
As has long since become the common pattern in police shootings of black male suspects, considerable early effort was put into creating a false narrative that was negative to the police. For example, Scott’s spouse claimed that he was not armed at the time police shot him. In fact, a gun extensively covered in Scott’s DNA was found at the scene beside his body. As another example, Scott’s daughter claimed that her father was merely reading a book when police shot him. In fact, no book was found at the scene.
Similarly, a Scott family attorney, Justin Bamberg, is quoted today by CNN as stating that “it’s safe to say he did have a gun on his person” but nevertheless claims that there was no proof that he had the gun in his hand. In fact, officers can be heard on dash cam video calling repeatedly for Scott to “drop the gun” repeatedly before the shots that would kill Scott are fired.
In making his press statement today that no charges would be filed, District Attorney Murray went to considerable effort to detail the evidence and circumstances that were taken into consideration in arriving at that decision. He also noted that his office requested reviews of the evidence by 15 additional former professional prosecutors, and that they unanimously agreed that Officer Vinson acted lawfully and that no charges against him were warranted.
He went on to note that:
The central issue here is whether Officer Vinson was lawful in using deadly force against Mr. Scott. Anyone is justified in using deadly force if he reasonably believed an in fact believed, that he or someone else was in imminent danger of great bodily injury or death. We cannot know what Mr. Scott’s intentions or reasoning were that day, and Officer Vinson could not know that at the time. What he saw was a man who had drawn a gun when confronted by police, exited a vehicle with the gun in his hand, and failed to comply with officers who commanded him at least 10 times to put the gun down.
DA Murray then goes on to discuss issues such as an officer’s reaction time to an imminent threat, and other facts, some of which are covered in the video embedded below. (In all, the press conference took about 30 minutes, but as yet we have only bits and pieces of the statement in video form from news outlets.)
The District Attorney naturally urged that people confused or angered by this decision should read the entire 22-pages of the DA’s report, which will presumably be released to the public for this purpose. He also urged that people not react emotionally, and certainly not engage in violence.
That said, to my personal knowledge law enforcement throughout the greater Charlotte area have been placed on alert, including Federal law enforcement resources.
Good luck, Charlotte.
Andrew F. Branca is an attorney and the author of The Law of Self Defense, 3rd Edition.