CHARLOTTE, N.C. » Video of a deadly encounter between Charlotte police and a black man shows his wife repeatedly telling officers he is not armed and pleading with them not to shoot her husband as they shout at him to drop a gun.
The video, recorded by Keith Lamont Scott’s wife and released today by his family, does not indicate whether Scott had a gun. Police have said he was armed, but witnesses say he held only a book. The 2 ½-minute video does not show the shooting, though gunshots can be heard.
Scott’s wife, Rakeyia Scott, tells officers that he has a TBI, or traumatic brain injury. At one point, she tells her husband to get out of the car so police don’t break the windows. She also tells him, “don’t do it,” but it’s not clear exactly what she means.
As the encounter escalates, she repeatedly urges police, “You better not shoot him.”
After the gunshots, Scott can be seen lying face-down on the ground while his wife says “he better live.” She continues recording and asks if an ambulance has been called. The officers stand over Scott. It’s unclear if they are checking him for weapons or attempting to give first aid.
In the footage, Scott’s wife states the address and says, “These are the police officers that shot my husband.”
Representatives for the police department and the mayor’s office did not immediately return emails from The Associated Press seeking comment.
The video emerged after a third night of protests over the shooting gave way to quiet streets today. The largely peaceful demonstrations in the city’s business district were watched over by rifle-toting members of the National Guard.
Protesters called on police to release video that could resolve wildly different accounts of the shooting earlier this week. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said today that there is footage from at least one police body camera and one dashboard camera.
The family of Scott, 43, was shown the footage Thursday and demanded that police release it to the public. The video recorded by Scott’s wife had not been previously released.
Demonstrators chanted “release the tape” and “we want the tape” Thursday while briefly blocking an intersection and later climbing the steps to the door of the city government center. Later, several dozen demonstrators walked onto an interstate highway through the city, but they were pushed back by police in riot gear.
State Attorney General Roy Cooper also called on Charlotte officials to release the video, saying doing so would help bring the community and law enforcement together. Cooper, a Democrat, is running for governor in November.
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. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Thursday, prosecutors charged a white officer with manslaughter for killing an unarmed black man on a city street last week.
Thursday’s protests in Charlotte lacked the violence and property damage of previous nights, and a curfew enacted by the city’s mayor encouraged a stopping point.
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts signed documents to keep the curfew in effect from midnight until 6 a.m. each day until the state of emergency declared by the governor ends.
After the curfew took effect, police allowed the crowd of demonstrators to thin without forcing them off the street. Police Capt. Mike Campagna told reporters that officers would not seek to arrest curfew violators as long as they were peaceful.
Putney said today that releasing the footage of Scott’s death could inflame the situation. He has said previously that the video will be made public when he believes there is a “compelling reason” to do so.
“It’s a personal struggle, but I have to do what I think is best for my community,” Putney said.
During the same news conference, Roberts said she believes the video should be released, but “the question is on the timing.”
Earlier in the week, the Charlotte protests turned violent, with demonstrators attacking reporters and others, setting fires and smashing windows of hotels, office buildings and restaurants.
Forty-four people were arrested after Wednesday’s protests, and one protester who was shot died at the hospital Thursday. City officials said police did not shoot 26-year-old Justin Carr. A suspect was arrested, but police provided few details.
Putney said he has seen the video and it does not contain “absolute, definitive evidence that would confirm that a person was pointing a gun.” But he added: “When taken in the totality of all the other evidence, it supports what we said.”
Justin Bamberg, an attorney for Scott’s family, said it’s “impossible to discern” from the videos what, if anything, Scott is holding in his hands.
Scott never aggressively approached officers and was shot as he walked slowly backward with his hands by his side, Bamberg said.
Associated Press writers Tom Foreman Jr., Mitch Weiss, Seanna Adcox and Jeffrey Collins in Charlotte, North Carolina; Gary Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina; and Jack Jones in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.