Police Refuse To Release Video Of Charlotte, N.C., Shooting
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Charlotte had a largely peaceful night of protests last night. A small march took place in the city's uptown neighborhood, the fourth night of demonstrations that followed the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
New evidence surfaced, a cellphone video that was taken by Mr. Scott's wife that recorded the shooting. We're going to hear that audio. Many people may find it disturbing. NPR's Greg Allen has been following the story this week and joins us from Charlotte. Greg, thanks for being with us.
GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: You're welcome, Scott.
SIMON: A lot of people have seen that video, in fact, over and over. For those who haven't, how do you describe it?
ALLEN: Well, this was a video recorded by Keith Lamont Scott's wife, Rakeyia. She was several feet away when police confronted Scott who was in his truck waiting for his son at the bus stop. On the video, you hear police shouting repeatedly, drop the gun, drop the gun.
You hear Scott's wife imploring police not to shoot her husband. She says he doesn't have a gun, that he has a TBI, which I've learned, that's a traumatic brain injury. And he'd just taken his medication, she says. On the video, you hear then police break the window of Scott's truck, and Scott gets out. His wife calls out to him, but it's really not clear what's going on when the gunfire happens. Here's the audio.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
RAKEYIA SCOTT: (Shouting) Keith - Keith, don't you do it. Don't you do it, Keith, Keith.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER #1: Drop the gun.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER #2: Drop the gun.
SCOTT: (Shouting) Keith, don't you do it.
(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)
SCOTT: (Shouting) Did you shoot him? Did you shoot him? Did you shoot him?
SIMON: That is a chilling, chilling piece of audio to hear. Does it tell us anything about why Keith Lamont Scott was shot?
ALLEN: It gives us some information, but it really does not provide all the answers people are looking for. Even the family's lawyer, Justin Bamberg, says the video is inconclusive. And that's what the police have said about their videos, the ones that they've not released yet. They don't show whether Scott had a gun or not.
Police have said that they did recover a gun from the scene. The Scott family released the video on Friday through their lawyer, Justin Bamberg. Here's what he had to say about it when he was interviewed on MSNBC.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
JUSTIN BAMBERG: It shows what it shows. You hear what you hear. You do see that at some point there are objects on the ground. It's not clear what those objects are. And we don't know what they are. But this is just one step towards piecing together and figuring out exactly why Mr. Scott lost his life.
ALLEN: When he talks about objects on the ground, we see police dropping what appear to be latex gloves that they'd had on when they - after examining the body on the ground.
The one thing you don't see in this video is any sign of a gun by Scott's feet. And that's important because there's been a picture circulated of Scott's body on the ground with something that many thought was a gun by his feet. And that's really not shown in this video.
SIMON: Greg, at the same time, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department has at least a couple of videos - don't they? - but they haven't released them.
ALLEN: That's right. Police Chief Kerr Putney says there are at least two videos that are pertinent here - one's dashboard, one is a body camera recording. He hasn't released them for now. And he says he doesn't plan to release them for now because he wants to preserve the integrity of the investigation - when they question other witnesses, you know, that they don't know what's on the tape. He also has said that he's referred this to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. They've now taken it over.
They put out a statement yesterday saying that the police chief can release these tapes if he wants. It's OK by them. And there has been a call by the community, by news media, elected officials, including Hillary Clinton, to release the tapes. She said that yesterday. And she was planning on coming to Charlotte on Sunday, but has now canceled that trip because it would strain resources.
SIMON: The city is still under a state of emergency and there's a curfew. How did things strike you today on the streets?
ALLEN: It's getting quieter. Things are starting to slowly return to normal, but things are clearly in flux here. There's really been a lot of attention on the release of these recordings. And the new video has really stirred things up. Charlotte's mayor has gone back and forth on whether she thinks the police recordings should be released. She's now saying they should. It's left officials here in a tough spot.
The city wants to get back to normal. They keep saying, you know, Charlotte is open for business. They do hope to have things getting back to normal. They have an NFL game here with the Panthers playing the Vikings at home right in their stadium near downtown tomorrow. But that said, the demonstrations are likely to continue, and the curfew is still in effect.
SIMON: NPR's Greg Allen, thanks so much.
ALLEN: You're welcome.
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