A Charlotte, North Carolina, district attorney’s office declined to bring criminal charges against the officer involved in the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
Citing Scott’s possession of an illegal firearm and marijuana, District Attorney Andrew Murray announced the decision during a press conference Wednesday morning. Scott was fatally shot four times by Officer Brentley Vinson, who is African-American.
“I am entirely convinced the use of deadly force was lawful,” Murray said. “All evidence suggests that he was armed. After repeated commands, Mr. Scott did not obey those commands… stepped out the vehicle with gun in hand. Doesn’t run, doesn’t drop the gun.”
Mr. Scott’s DNA was found on the slide and grip of the gun, Murray said, adding that Scott had obtained the firearm from an illegal seller through Facebook. During the press conference, Murray showed still images from video footage allegedly showing Scott with what he says was a gun holster on his ankle. North Carolina is an open-carry state.
Scott’s wife, Rakeyia Scott, said her husband had just taken his medication for unknown psychiatric disorders shortly before his encounter with police. Murray said that Officer Vinson was not aware of Scott’s mental capacity and characterized him as “aggressive” and exhibiting “behavior abnormalities.” Vinson, he said, was in imminent danger and was justified in discharging his firearm.
With the decision, which will likely be displeasing to members of the community and communities of color at large, Murray urged the public to read the facts of the case and assured them that he was sympathetic to the national issue of police-involved killings and wouldn’t hesitate to prosecute an officer he felt abused their power or broke the law.
“I want everyone in this community to know that we meticulously, thoroughly reviewed all of the evidence in this case [and] made sure it was credible evidence in order to make the decision that we made today,” Murray said.
“We took a lot of painstaking effort to make certain that there was no personal bias in our determination. I’d like to community to take a collective pause. The community should read the report, digest the report.”