WASHINGTON, Dec 1 — No charges will be filed against a police officer who fatally shot an African-American man in the southeastern US state of North Carolina, a prosecutor said yesterday.
The shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott on September 20, another in a string of police killings of black men that have fueled outrage across America, was “lawful”, said Andrew Murray, the district attorney of Mecklenburg County, at a news conference.
Scott was confronted as two police officers in Charlotte, the state’s largest city, were preparing to serve a warrant on another person.
They noticed Scott was rolling a marijuana cigarette in his vehicle outside his apartment complex.
The officer who fatally shot Scott, Brentley Vinson, is also an African-American.
The district attorney, in a lengthy presentation of the process behind the decision not to press charges against Vinson, said yesterday that Scott was wearing an ankle holster and gun that were later found at the scene of the shooting.
Officer Vinson reported seeing Scott holding up a semi-automatic hand gun as he sat in his vehicle.
Vinson and other officers came back to the scene to make an arrest for marijuana possession and further investigate the firearm.
All the videos of the incident captured repeated commands from the police to drop the gun, the district attorney said.
“Scott did not obey those commands, acted with aberrant behavior, stepped out of the vehicle with gun in hand, doesn’t run, doesn’t drop the gun, doesn’t leave the gun in the car, but steps out and steps back, assessing each officer,” Murray said.
Vinson decided his life was in “imminent” danger and fired his weapon four times, striking Scott in the wrist, abdomen and rear shoulder, Murray said.
Scott succumbed to his injuries despite officers and medical personnel’s attempts to render aid, he added.
“I am fully satisfied and entirely convinced that officer Vinson’s use of deadly force was lawful,” he said.
The shooting of Scott triggered several nights of violence-marred protests, prompting South Carolina’s governor to declare a state of emergency.
Lawyers representing the family of Scott said they would review the entire investigative file, citing continuing legal questions.
“What we ask is that the public withhold any judgment that they would make, be considerate of this family and allow us to conduct what we would call a thorough investigation behind the investigation,” said Eduardo Curry, one of the lawyers.
Scott’s family is “still devastated about his loss,” he said.
“It’s a painful situation that can’t be covered up.” — AFP