CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray said officer Brentley Vinson “acted lawfully” when he shot Keith Lamont Scott in September, leading to his death.
The Mecklenburg County district attorney arrived around 9 a.m. Wednesday to review the findings with Scott’s family, who requested a state investigation into the shooting.
Murray spoke publicly around 10:45 a.m. at the DA’s office, located on E. Trade Street. A statement is expected to be released, revealing whether officer Brentley Vinson will face criminal charges.
Murray extended his “heartfelt” prayers to Scott’s family, and said he “personally reviewed” Scott’s case.
“All of the available and credible evidence suggests that he [Scott] was armed,” Murray said. Scott’s DNA was found on the grip and slide of the gun, Murray continued.
The district attorney pointed to the first visual of the press conference, directing eyes to a surveillance video of Scott pulling up to a convenience store and exiting his white SUV.
Murray drew attention to Scott’s right ankle, saying “the bulge you see here,” pointing to Scott’s right ankle, is consistent with the gun and holster recovered from the scene.
Mrs. Scott continued that she did not know Scott was in possession of a gun, but Murray said text messages between the two show differently.
A portion of officer Vinson’s interviewed was also played during the conference, where Vinson described fearing he or another officer would be shot. Vinson said Scott had a “trance like” stare prior to the shooting. The daze is consistent with side effects from medication Scott was taking, Murray said.
The four shots fired at Scott were from Vinson’s gun, Murray said, in reference to claims that another officer may have fired the shots.
“When a law enforcement officer shoots and kills a person in Mecklenburg County, a very specific protocol is followed to review the case,” the Mecklenburg County DA’s office says. “For criminal charges to be pursued, the District Attorney must find that there is a reasonable likelihood that all elements of the crime charged can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to 12 unanimous jurors at trial after considering reasonable defenses. If this standard is met, criminal charges will be pursued.”
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney met with neighbors to work on improving community relations Tuesday night, a day before the expected decision.
“Whatever happens tomorrow, we’re going to be prepared for it. If it happens Thursday, we’ll be prepared then, we’ve got work to do, we still have to continue to build trust and enhance trust with our community, and tonight was a part of that,” Putney said.
Charles Monnett, one of the attorneys for Scott’s family, told WBTV Tuesday that they’re preparing for an emotional day Wednesday, no matter the outcome.
“It’s a day that she’s looked forward to for quite some time now, and she’s hopeful that she’s going to get answers to those questions and first and foremost is why did her husband die?” Monnett said.
Monnett said the family hopes there is no violence if there are any protests following the announcement.
“They appreciate the community support that they have received, and they encourage people to express their feelings and thoughts about what happened, but really strongly urge everyone to do it in a peaceful and lawful manner,” Monnett said.
The president of the Police Foundation said former Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief Rodney Monroe would have no direct role in the organizations review of CMPD’s policies and response to the shooting of Scott.
The Charlotte City Council approved a contract with the Police Foundation worth $379,504. The Police Foundation will provide consulting services to review CMPD policies, procedures and its work in the aftermath of the Scott shooting.
Scott, 43, was killed Sept. 20 when police were serving a warrant at The Village at College Downs apartment complex on Old Concord Road.
The autopsy, released by the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner, shows that Scott was killed by gunshot wounds to the posterior left chest and left abdomen.
The medical examiner states Scott was shot a third time, in the posterior left wrist.
“We believe the first shot fired was the shot that struck Keith in the back and ultimately killed him,” Monnett said in a statement in October.
According to CMPD, plainclothes officers were at the apartment complex to serve a warrant unrelated to Scott. They said Scott pulled into the parking lot and parked beside the unmarked police vehicle officers were in, then began rolling what they believed to be a marijuana “blunt.”
A short time later, police say they saw Scott hold a gun up.
According to Putney, the officers identified themselves as police officers and “gave clear, loud and repeated verbal commands to drop the gun.” Scott refused to follow those commands.
That’s when an officer in uniform and in a marked vehicle arrived to assist, and “utilized his baton to attempt to breach the front passenger window in an effort to arrest” Scott.
CMPD said Scott then got out of the vehicle with the gun and “backed away from the vehicle while continuing to ignore officers’ repeated loud verbal commands to drop the gun.”
“Officer Vinson perceived Mr. Scott’s actions and movements as an imminent physical threat to himself and the other officers. Officer Vinson fired his issued service weapon, striking Mr. Scott,” police officials said. “Officers immediately rendered first aid and requested Medic to respond to the scene.”
Scott’s family has said he did not own a gun, but police said they recovered a gun at the scene of the shooting. Putney said Scott was “absolutely in possession of a handgun.”
Monnett said they were “forced to conduct the independent autopsy because the medical examiner refused to release even the most basic information about his wounds or cause of his death.”
The private autopsy does not include a toxicology report, which was conducted by county medical examiners who originally examined Scott’s body.
A day after the fatal shooting of Scott, about 1,000 people gathered uptown to protest, and Charlotte officials worried that events might turn violent for a second night.
When some demonstrators marched to the EpiCentre and began smashing windows and looting businesses, “there was no significant police presence in the area,” according to an affidavit obtained by The Charlotte Observer from a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department major.