The stated reason the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department didn’t release their body cam and dash cam footage of the shooting was that by doing so, it might interfere with the investigation.
Amid calls from the public and Keith Scott’s family to release the footage of the shooting, the police have now decided to comply with those demands.
Police chief Kerr Putney had been saying that the video footage didn’t show conclusive evidence that Scott was holding a gun. Neither footage from the dash cam and one of the officers body cams showed it, and the officer who fatally shot Scott – Brentley Vinson, a black man – wasn’t wearing a body camera.
— Christina Watkins (@CWatkinsTV) September 24, 2016
So, the footage has now been released, but it doesn’t make the incident any clearer. Scott is seen very briefly and from no angles that show whether or not he was holding a weapon.
What is seen in the video, however, is Scott inching backwards right before he got shot. He didn’t appear to be pointing anything at anyone. So, if he had a gun in his hand, he wasn’t aiming at any of the cops.
Was it necessary for the police to shoot Scott? It’s hard to say at this point, since all we have are bits and pieces, and the police report. According to an eyewitness account, Scott didn’t have anything in his hand, and he was reading a book. That we know probably wasn’t the case, since the police didn’t recover a book from the scene. And they did recover a handgun and an ankle holster. And a marijuana joint.
I’m usually torn with these kinds of shootings. On one hand, I understand that police are on edge when a civilian has a gun. But too often – not necessarily in this case – police overreact and shoot when there really wasn’t a threat.
When police do overreact, I don’t think it’s evidence of “racism.” I think it’s evidence that our society is on edge. Civilians are afraid that the police will abuse their authority, and the police are afraid that civilians will shoot at them. Both sides have issues that need to be resolved, and until that happens, officer-involved shootings will continue.