Charlotte Officer Won’t Be Charged In Shooting That Sparked Riots

By DAN MCCUE

(CN) – A North Carolina prosecutor announced Wednesday that he won’t pursue charges against a Charlotte police officer who shot and killed a black man, an incident that led to several nights of unrest in the city.

The decision by Charlotte-Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray, who concluded that Officer Brentley Vinson’s actions in killing Keith Lamont Scott were justified, capped a two-month investigation.

In announcing its outcome, Murray stressed that he did not reach the decision alone, but that 15 other prosecutors agreed with his conclusion.

The case differed from other high-profile, officer-involved shootings in that Vinson was also black. But from almost the moment Scott died in an apartment complex parking lot on Sept. 20, the city was divided over contradictory claims made in the case.

According to the police department, plainclothes officers had gone to the complex late on the afternoon of Sept. 20 looking for a suspect wanted on an outstanding warrant. As they moved through the parking lot, the officer saw Scott sitting inside a car with a gun and marijuana.

Officers saw Scott get out of the car with a gun and then get back in, police said. When officers approached, they said, Scott exited the car with the gun again. At that point, officers deemed Scott a threat and Vinson fired his weapon.

An autopsy report from Mecklenburg County authorities says Scott, 43, died of gunshot wounds to the back and abdomen.

Later, the department released photographs of a gun recovered at the scene.

Scott’s family, meanwhile, said he was unarmed, holding only a book, and had been waiting for his son to return home from school when he was shot.

The disparity led to protests and the governor called on the National Guard to assist local police in restoring order.

The initial unrest was followed by several days of peaceful demonstrations, and the city instituted a curfew for multiple nights.

During his news conference Wednesday, Murray played a surveillance video from a nearby store that appeared to show the outline of a gun in a holster on Scott’s right ankle.

Vinson has been on administrative leave which is standard in police shootings.

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