No charges filed against CMPD officer who shot and killed Keith Scott

A two-month investigation into possible wrongdoing in the shooting death of Keith Scott has come to a close.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Mecklenburg County District Attorney announced Wednesday that he believes Brentley Vinson, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer who shot and killed Keith Scott, acted lawfully and that no charges will be filed against him.

The shooting sparked protests and riots throughout Charlotte for the following week. The protests were in unison with the movement, Black Lives Matter. Both Keith Scott and Officer Vinson were African American.

District Attorney Andrew Murray told press Wednesday morning that 15 'career prosecutors' oversaw the case and their decision was unanimous.

"Police are often forced to make split-second decisions," Murray said before launching into a detailed description of the shooting.

One of Murray's initial and main points throughout the discussion was conveyed by showing a video of Scott visiting a convenience store prior to the shooting. Murray asked onlookers to take note of Scott's right ankle, pointing out a holster and gun that "was later described by officers who located it at the scene," Murray said.

Murray then played radio traffic from officers during the time of the incident.

"This radio traffic is important because it corroborates that officers saw Scott with a gun before any incident happened," Murray said.

One of the most controversial points of the shooting was that Officer Vinson and others were undercover. Murray said that while Officer Vinson was undercover, he and other police on scene had visible identification, including badges on their shirts.

Murray said that although camera footage of the shooting did not make for a clear outcome, the convenience store footage clearly depicted Scott's ankle with the gun and holster.

The shooting incident occurred shortly after Scott visited the convenience store.

"Officers can be heard at least 10 times telling Scott to drop the gun," Murray said.

He said that Scott's behavior was in line with those on medication, including aggressive tendencies and a 'trance-like' look.

"Mr. Scott looked at Vinson, and then at each of the officers, and then back at Vinson," Murray said before playing footage of Vinson's interview with attorneys.

Murray then went into detail showing photos demonstrating on a mannequin how shots killed Keith Scott and what the medical examiner surveyed.

Whether Scott had a gun or not has been one of the main questions left following the shooting. Murray addressed this, saying, "All of the credible and available evidence shows that Mr. Scott was armed".

Murray said Scott's DNA was found on the gun. However, he said fingerprints found on the side of the gun by the State Board of Investigation could not make a determination.

Excerpts from a Facebook message conversation between the gun seller and a third party were shown. The conversation discussed the gun and Murray noted the seller wrote, "I feel like it's my fault he is dead."

Murray addressed whether other officers were involved in the shooting, saying that Officer Vinson took full responsibility for the shooting. The other officers who were on scene had fully loaded guns; Vinson's gun was the only one that was missing bullets, Murray said.

Claims made by witnesses were then discussed. Murray went over multiple claims in detail, including Scott's wife, Rakeyia, and her prior claims that Officer Vinson was not the officer who shot her husband

"Mrs. Scott has maintained with interviews with SBI and the media that Mr. Scott did not have a gun," Murray said. "However, text messages between Mr. and Mrs. Scott included [an] argument about a gun in Mr. Scott's possession," Murray said.

Murray concluded that after thorough review, Officer Vinson 'acted lawfully' when he used deadly force against Keith Scott.

After his declaration, Murray went on to address the Mecklenburg County and Charlotte community. He said he was not afraid to prosecute an officer who acted against the law, and that he will not condone violence or damage to property as an expression. 

"It is my sincere prayer that no one is ever killed by police, but it is also my prayer that police are not forced to be placed in a decision to use lethal force to protect their and the lives around them," Murray said. 

Shortly after the District Attorney's reveal, Scott's family attorneys addressed press and the public saying that they did not get the decision they had hoped for from the District Attorney's office. Rakeyia and other members of Keith Scott's family stood behind them as they spoke.

"We're still in the process of investigating this case," an attorney said and asked the community to respect the family in their "quest for justice."

Attorney Justin Bamberg also asked that, "when are we as a country going to say enough is enough and work to address the problem instead of reacting?"

In September, the shooting by officer Brentley Vinson of Keith Scott sparked days of protests, riots and demonstrations, some of which turned violent. 

The same night Scott was killed, some demonstrators moved out onto I-85, stopping traffic and setting cargo on fire. After a second night where windows were smashed in uptown, the National Guard was called in to help maintain order.

Officials are concerned a similar outcome of protests may rise again following the reveal that Officer Vinson will not be charged. 

Charlotte Uprising tweeted Tuesday to meet at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police headquarters at 6:45 p.m. to "hold them accountable!"

The group also tweeted a disgruntled response shortly after the District Attorney's announcement.

Tuesday at a community dialogue, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said the department still has a lot of work to do to show the community who they are.

“As I said before, it’s hard to hate up close. I’m trying to close that gap so there’s not as much distrust,” he said.

The Mecklenburg County District Attorney's Office released the following full investigation Wednesday following the announcement. 

Copyright 2016 WCNC


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