Police in Charlotte, North Carolina, have released video of the fatal shooting of an African American man after days of pressure from protesters.
But the bodycam and dashcam footage of their fatal encounter with Keith Lamont Scott, 43, fails to establish whether he had been holding a gun, as police say, or simply a book as his family have insisted.
“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 the Scott family’s lawyer, Justin Bamberg.
In one of the police videos, a dashboard-mounted camera from a squad car showed Scott exiting his vehicle and then backing away from it. Police shout to him to drop a gun, but it is not clear that Scott is holding anything. Four shots then ring out and Scott drops to the ground.
A second video, taken with an officer’s body camera, fails to capture the shooting. It briefly shows Scott standing outside his vehicle before he is shot, but it is not clear whether he has something in his hand. The officer then moves and Scott is out of view until he is seen lying on the ground.
At least five people who appear to be police officers are seen in the bodycam video. Both videos show Scott moving at a measured pace with his hands at his sides.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney acknowledged that the videos themselves were “insufficient” to prove that Scott held a gun but said other evidence completed the picture.
“There is no definitive visual evidence that he had a gun in his hand,” Putney said. “But what we do see is compelling evidence that, when you put all the pieces together, supports that.”
Police released photos of a marijuana cigarette, an ankle holster they said Scott was wearing, and a handgun, which they said was loaded and had Scott’s fingerprints and DNA.
But Scott’s family, which released its own video of the encounter on Friday, said the police footage showed the father of seven was not acting aggressively and that the police shooting made no sense, with no attempt to de-escalate the situation.
The family video, shot by Scott’s wife, was also inconclusive on the question of a gun.
The two-minute video recorded by Scott’s wife on a mobile phone showed the scene of the shooting, but not the shooting itself. In the video, Mrs. Scott can be heard telling officers that her husband has TBI, a traumatic brain injury.
“Don’t shoot him! He has no weapon” she cries as police yell at Scott, “Drop the gun!” Then shots sound.
Scott’s brother-in-law, Ray Dotch, has said: “He was an American citizen who deserved better.”
Saturday saw a fifth night of protests over Keith Lamont Scott’s killing, by an officer who is himself African American.
One sign read “Stop police brutality” and another showed a picture of a bloody handprint with the phrase #AMINEXT, a social media tag about the fear of becoming a victim of police violence.
Charlotte has become the latest flashpoint in ongoing tensions over US police shootings of black men, most of them unarmed.
For the first time in three nights, police enforced a curfew, saying they would arrest violators. A crowd gathered outside police headquarters dispersed without any violence shortly after midnight.