Relatives of a black man fatally shot by police in Charlotte, North Carolina, viewed police video of his killing Thursday and called for authorities to immediately release the footage to the public.
The family of Keith Lamont Scott, who was shot to death by an officer on Tuesday, saw two police videos of the shooting that raised “more questions than answers,” attorney Justin Bamberg said in a statement Thursday evening.
“As a matter of the greater good and transparency, the family asks that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department publicly, immediately release both of the videos they watched today,” Bamberg said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said earlier Thursday he had no plans to release police footage of Scott’s killing publicly without what he determines is a “compelling reason.”
Scott’s family and witnesses have disputed the police narrative that Scott, 43, was armed with a handgun and was a threat when he was shot. Relatives said he was unarmed and was holding a book. Police said they recovered a handgun, but no book.
“It is impossible to discern from the videos what, if anything, Mr. Scott is holding in his hands,” Bamberg said. Putney made a similar comment earlier in the day.
Bamberg said the video shows that Scott exited his vehicle in a “very calm, non-aggressive manner.” Police issued several commands, he said, but Scott “did not aggressively approach them or raise his hands at members of law enforcement at any time.”
Angry protests have gripped the city for two nights. A civilian died from a gunshot and several police officers were hurt.
Police video in North Carolina often is difficult to obtain for anyone not the subject of the recordings. A new law that takes effect Oct. 1 will standardize this practice, hindering the public’s ability to judge police performance.
Before family members viewed the video, Bamberg reiterated that they maintained Scott had no gun. Scott’s wife, Rakeyia, was among family members who were eyewitnesses to the shooting, the lawyer said.
“As far as we know, he did not own a weapon,” Bamberg said. North Carolina is a state with open carry laws.
Bamberg said witnesses had given varying accounts, with some saying Scott had a book and others say he held nothing.
Police encountered Scott at an apartment complex Tuesday afternoon as they attempted to arrest someone else on an outstanding warrant. Police said Scott was armed, exiting then re-entering his vehicle with a gun. Scott refused to comply with officers’ orders and posed a threat to officers, prompting one to shoot, police said.
Scott’s fatal shooting ― the sixth by Charlotte police in the past 12 months ― sparked two nights of intense protests that at times turned violent. On Wednesday night, several stores in the downtown area were looted and vandalized. One person was shot and remains gravely injured.
Bamberg said the family was pleading for peace and privacy.
“This family does not — does not — agree with rioting or innocent individuals being injured or killed,” Bamberg said. “But they do support citizens and their right to voice their frustration, to voice their anger.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified the family’s lawyer. He is Justin Bamberg.