Police in Charlotte urged to release video of black man’s killing

Keith Scott shot dead by black police officer, sparking two night of protests in North Carolina

Keith Scott's wife, Rakeyia Scott, released footage of the shooting of her husband. The family continue to urge officials to release their own recordings of the shooting Video: Rakeyia Scott/ Reuters

 

The family of a black man shot dead by police in Charlotte, North Carolina, this week have called for officials to publicly release video of the incident, disputing the police contention that it shows the shooting was justified.

Keith Scott, a 43-year-old father of seven, was shot dead by a black police officer in the parking lot of an apartment complex in North Carolina’s largest city on Tuesday, sparking two nights of street violence.

Mr Scott’s death was the latest in a long string of controversial killings of black people by US police that have stirred an intense debate on race and justice. A United Nations working group on Friday compared the killings to the lynching of black people by white mobs in the 19th and 20th centuries.

There was little trouble during the third night of protests in the city of 810,000 people. Officials said three people were injured in rallies that authorities let stretch past a midnight curfew which mayor Jennifer Roberts imposed a day after governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency.

Police arrested a man on Thursday and charged him with the murder of a protester who was shot during Wednesday night’s protest and died on Thursday, Charlotte-Mecklenberg police chief Kerr Putney told a press conference on Friday.

Mr Scott was the 214th black person killed by US police this year out of an overall total of 821, according to Mapping Police Violence, another group created out of the protest movement. There is no national-level government data on police shootings.

The UN working group recommended the US create a reliable national system to track killings and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, as well as ending the practice of racial profiling.

Civil rights activists are calling for the release of videos showing Mr Scott’s killing. Mr Putney said he supported the release of the video at a later date and with the consent of the lead investigators.

Mr Scott’s family, who viewed the footage on Thursday and called for its release, said it does not show him acting in an aggressive manner towards police.

Lawyers

Justin Bamberg

On Friday evening the family released a video through the New York Times taken by Rakeyia Scott, Mr Scott’s wife, which shows the moments before and after the incident, including the wife’s pleas to her husband to get out of his truck, and her pleas to the police not to shoot him.

Police contend that Mr Scott was holding a gun and ignored orders to drop it. Family members earlier asserted he had been carrying a book, and after seeing the video said in a statement that it was “impossible to discern” what, if anything, he had in his hands.

Mr Putney has said the video supported the police account of what happened, but does not definitively show Scott pointing a gun at officers.

“I know the expectation is that video footage can be the panacea and I can tell you that is not the case,” Mr Putney said, adding that he would eventually agree to the release of the video. “It’s a matter of when and a matter of sequence.”

Court order

The killing and its aftermath are playing out in a state that has been at the forefront of some of the nation’s most bitter political fights in recent years.

North Carolina’s Republican-dominated state legislature has tightened voting laws, slashed education spending and passed a law prohibiting transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice.

State officials who pursue these policies are partly to blame for this week’s unrest, civil rights leaders say.

“It’s somewhat hypocritical to cry out against violence when you pass violent policies,” said Rev William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP.

A North Carolina congressman apologised after telling the BBC he believed the protesters were motivated by jealousy. “They hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not,” Robert Pittenger said in a TV interview.

He later apologised on Twitter: “What is taking place in my hometown breaks my heart. Today, my anguish led me to respond to a reporter’s question in a way that I regret,” he said.

In contrast to the tension in Charlotte, the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma was calm after a white police officer was charged with first-degree manslaughter on Thursday for the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man that was also captured on video. – (Reuters)