No charges to be filed in Charlotte police shooting

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Keith Lamont Scott

Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray announced Wednesday that no charges will be filed against Officer Brently Vinson in the September 20 shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.

The shooting touched off days of protests and violence in the city.

Murray said the shooting was lawful and that officer Vinson was acting in self defense. Both Vinson and Scott are black.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S FULL REPORT (.pdf)

"I know that some out there are going to be frustrated," said Murray. "But we thoroughly reviewed all of the evidence and made sure it was credible in order to reach the decision we made today."

Murray offered a "heartfelt prayer" to Scott's family.

"No one should ever experience - let alone witness - the violent death of a loved one," he said.

Before announcing his decision, Murray carefully went through all the evidence in the case. He also showed for the first time surveillance video from a convenience store before the shooting that shows Scott with a bulge at the bottom of his pants leg that Murray said was a gun holster.

Later, Murray said officers were working undercover at The Village at College Downs, when one officer said he witnessed Scott sitting in his cars with drugs and a gun.

The officers said they identified themselves as police officers and gave clear and repeated verbal commands for Scott to drop the gun. They said Scott refused to follow the officers' commands.

Body cam and dashcam video showed Scott getting out of his vehicle and backing away from the vehicle, while ignoring the officers' verbal commands to drop the gun.

Murray said Scott had the gun in his right hand and was told at least 10 times to put it down. He also said multiple witnesses described Scott as having a "blank stare" which he attributed to medication Scott took just before the shooting.

Murray said Officer Vinson perceived Scott's actions to be an imminent physical threat and fired his weapon.

Murray also addressed reports that Scott was shot first in the back. He said the first bullet hit him in the abdomen, doubling him over, and the next bullet hit Scott from the top into his shoulder.

Murray said a gun was found at the scene, and a lab analysis of the weapon revealed the presence of Scott's DNA and his fingerprints on the gun. The .380 semi-automatic was loaded with a round in the chamber, the safety off, and it was cocked.

Murray said while Scott's wife has said he did not own a gun, investigators found text messages between them from a month before where they argued about one.

He also addressed reports from witnesses who claimed that Scott was unarmed, was reading a book when police approached, that he was shot by a white officer, and other rumors. Murray said they spoke with each witness and found their statements not to be credible when compared with the other evidence in the case.

Following the DA's news conference, Scott's family held one of its own. Lawyers said the investigation isn't over and they may pursue civil action in the case. They also asked that any protests over the decision be peaceful.

The ACLU expressed concern after the decision.

"The district attorney's decision not to bring charges in Keith Lamont Scott's killing leaves the people of Charlotte with profound and unsettling questions," said Susanna Birdsong, Policy Counsel of the ACLU of North Carolina. "How will the city and the police department ensure that this kind of tragedy doesn't happen again? What steps has or will the city take to heal the community's pain and do everything it can to prevent the police from causing such pain in the future? The bottom line is, whether or not the facts here should have resulted in criminal charges, Mr. Scott should be alive today."

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