Newly released police video of a black man's fatal shooting, sought by protesters for days, isn't settling questions about whether the man threatened police with a gun before he was felled by a black officer.
Police said Keith Lamont Scott had a gun, though residents have said he was unarmed. It's not apparent in the video if he's holding anything shortly before he was shot. The dramatic video released by Charlotte police shows officers with guns drawn surrounding the man just before the shooting.
The footage of the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott was released after several days of demonstrations that coalesced around demands that the public see the video. Police said Scott had a gun, though residents have said he was unarmed.
In the police dashboard camera video released Saturday night, Scott could be seen backing away from a white SUV with his hands down, and it's unclear if there's anything in his hands. Four shots are heard, and he falls to the ground.
The officer who shot Scott was not wearing a body camera, police have said.
Police also released photos of a gun that they said was retrieved at the scene, adding that it contained Scott's DNA and fingerprints. They said the gun was loaded and Scott was wearing an ankle holster. They also said Scott also had marijuana.
Scott's family maintains that he did not have a gun at the time of the shooting.
An attorney for the Scott family, Justin Bamberg, said the video appears to show Scott walking backwards and not posing a threat before he was shot, and it isn't clear from the footage that he had a gun.
"There is no definitive evidence in this video as to whether or not there is an object in his hand, and if there is, what that object is," said Justin Bamberg, an attorney for Scott's family. "But what we do know is that the moment Mr. Scott is shot, it appears as though he's not aggressively moving toward law enforcement; he's actually doing the opposite. He's passively stepping back."
Ray Dotch, Scott's brother-in-law, said some reporters had been looking into Scott's background but added that background shouldn't matter.
"What we know and what you should know about him is that he was an American citizen who deserved better," he said.
The dashboard camera footage starts with two officers pointing their guns at Scott, who is inside the SUV with the doors closed and windows rolled up. Scott gets out and starts walking backward before shots are fired.
From a different angle, police body camera footage shows an officer approach the white SUV with his gun drawn and another officer already pointing his gun at Scott. When Scott comes into view, he has his hands at his side and is standing outside of his SUV. The body camera footage doesn't show the moment the shots are fired, and Scott next comes into view already on the ground.
Before releasing the footage, Chief Kerr Putney said at a news conference that he received assurances from the State Bureau of Investigation that letting the public see the video would not impact the state's independent probe of the shooting.
Asked whether he expected the footage to calm protesters, Putney responded: "The footage itself will not create in anyone's mind absolute certainty as to what this case represents and what the outcome should be. The footage only supports all of the other information" such as physical evidence and statements from witnesses and officers.
At his news conference, Putney said that his officers didn't break the law but noted that the state is continuing its investigation.
"Officers are absolutely not being charged by me at this point, but again, there's another investigation ongoing," he said.
Putney said that Scott was "absolutely in possession of a handgun," and that officers also saw marijuana in his car — prompting them to act.
Along with the videos, Charlotte officials also gave a fuller account Saturday of what caused police, who were looking for another person, to confront Scott.
Police said in a press release that plainclothes officers were in the parking lot preparing to serve an arrest warrant against someone else Tuesday when an SUV parked beside them. The officers saw Scott rolling a marijuana "blunt," which they ignored, but then Brentley Vinson, who fired the fatal shots "observed Mr. Scott hold a gun up."
"Due to the combination of illegal drugs and the gun Mr. Scott had in his possession, officers decided to take enforcement action for public safety concerns," police said.
The police statement said officers left to put on marked vests and when they returned, officers again noticed Scott "in possession of a weapon." When an officer tried to break the SUV's window "to make an arrest," Scott exited the vehicle with the gun and backed away from the vehicle while continuing to ignore officers' repeated loud verbal commands to drop the gun," the statement said.
"Officer Vinson perceived Mr. Scott's actions and movements as an imminent physical threat to himself and the other officers," the statement said.
Amid anxiety and unease over the shooting of Scott, demonstrations in Charlotte have gone from violent to peaceful, although demands to see the police video remained a chief concern of protesters.
Before the release of the video, hundreds massed outside at the Charlotte police department building on Saturday afternoon chanting the name "Keith Scott." They also chanted, "No tapes, no peace" and raised signs including one reading "Stop Killing The Black People."
Peaceful protests continued after the video release.
The city has been on edge ever since Scott's shooting death. The demonstrations reached a violent crescendo on Wednesday before the National Guard was called in a day later to maintain order. Forty-four people were arrested after Wednesday's protests, and one protester who was shot died at a hospital Thursday. City officials said police did not shoot 26-year-old Justin Carr, and a suspect was arrested.
The next two nights of protests were free of property damage and violence, with organizers stressing a message of peace at the end of the week.
A fifth day of protests against the Scott's fatal shooting remained largely peaceful after the release of the partial police vehicle dashcam and police body cam footage.
Charlotte is the latest U.S. city to be shaken by protests and recriminations over the death of a black man at the hands of police, a list that includes Baltimore, Milwaukee, Chicago, New York and Ferguson, Missouri.