Charlotte Cops Kill Man Who Was Allegedly Unarmed and Reading in Car Setting Off Protests

News & Politics

Police fatally shot an African-American man named Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday evening. According to the Charlotte Observer, officer Brentley Vinson, who is also African American, fired the shot that killed the 43-year-old father in the parking lot of the Village at College Downs apartment complex. Protests erupted at the site of the shooting, during which which “several dozen police officers in riot gear” fired tear gas into the crowd. Witnesses of the shooting and the officers involved give vastly different accounts of what actually transpired.

In a statement released Tuesday night, CMPD officials say officers were looking for a suspect with an outstanding warrant when they “observed a subject inside a vehicle” who “exited the vehicle armed with a firearm,” before getting back into the car. The account goes on to state that as police approached the vehicle, the man, now identified as Scott, “got back out of the vehicle armed with a firearm and posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers who subsequently fired their weapon striking the subject.”

That report conflicts with the statements from members of Scott’s family, who say he was unarmed, and that the gun in question was actually a book. They also say Scott was disabled.

"He was waiting on his son to get from school and the ‘jump-off’ police came out with no—he didn't have on no uniform to determine if he was a police or not,” Scott’s brother tells reporter Tanya Mendis of the local NBC affiliate, in the video below. “He was an undercover and he just jumped out and yelled 'gun' and shot at him. I think they shot him four times, I'm not sure, but he's dead."

"Man was in his truck, reading a book waiting for his kid to come home," one man at the scene told WCNC. "Cops shot him, for nothing."

Local outlet WBTV-TV posted video of a woman who identified herself as Scott’s sister who said he did not have a gun.

“He sits in the shade, reads his book, does his studies, and waits on his kid to get off the bus,” the woman says in the footage below. “He didn’t have no gun. He wasn’t messing with nobody. All they did—them ‘jumpout boys,’ them undercover detectives—they jumped out their truck, they said, ‘Hands up, he got a gun! He got a gun!’ Pow, pow, pow, pow! That’s it.”

Lyric Scott, Scott’s daughter, took to Facebook to stream live video just after the shooting. In YouTube footage of the video, posted on, she states, “The police just shot my daddy four times for being black.”

In their press statement, police say immediately after the shooting, officers “requested medic and began performing CPR.” Scott was pronounced dead by doctors at Carolinas Medical Center.

Roads in the area were blocked off as protesters took to streets following the shooting. According to WSOC-TV, “officers deploy[ed] tear gas into crowd and protesters targeted police cruisers.” About 12 officers were reported injured.

At around midnight, Charlotte's mayor, Jennifer Roberts, tweeted, “I will continue to work with our manager & Chief on officer involved shooting. We are reaching out to community to ask for calm. The community deserves answers and full investigation will ensue. Will be reaching out to community leaders to work together.”

CMPD have announced that “as is standard procedure with any officer-involved shooting, Officer Vinson has been placed on paid administrative leave." 

WSOC-TV reports this is the sixth CMPD officer-involved civilian death this year.

The shooting comes three days after video emerged of Tulsa, Oklahoma officer Betty Shelby fatally shooting 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, despite the fact that he was unarmed with his hands visibly in the air. 

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