CHARLOTTE, NERTH CAROLINA – The family of the black man whose shooting death by police triggered two nights of riots viewed video of the episode on Thursday, as Charlotte, North Carolina, braced for the possibility of a third straight night of violence.
Police have resisted pressure to publicly release the video, instead showing it to the family of Keith Scott, 43, who was killed on Tuesday as part of a police search for another suspect.
Scott’s wife and other family members viewed the police body camera video of a black police officer shooting him dead in the parking lot of an apartment complex, but the family said it still “has more questions than answers.”
“While police did give him several commands, he did not aggressively approach them or raise his hands at members of law enforcement at any time,” Justin Bamberg, an attorney for the family, said in a statement.
“It is impossible to discern from the videos what, if anything, Mr. Scott is holding in his hands,” the statement said, adding that Scott’s hands were by his sides and he was slowly walking backward.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney has said the video supported the police account of what happened but does not definitively show Scott pointing a gun at officers.
Police contend that he was carrying a gun when he approached officers and ignored repeated orders to drop it. His family had previously said he was holding a book, not a firearm, when he was killed.
“I’m not going to release the video right now,” Putney told reporters early on Thursday, the morning after nine people were injured and 44 arrested in riots over Scott’s killing.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency in the midst of Wednesday night’s rioting, during which one man critically wounded by a gunshot. At least eight more civilians and four police officers were injured and 44 people arrested for charges ranging from assault to failure to disperse.
Many of the protesters dispute the official account of Scott’s death.
The decision to withhold the footage from the public was criticized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and members of the clergy from the Charlotte area.
“There must be transparency and the videos must be released,” the Rev. William Barber, who sits on the national board of the NAACP, told a news conference.
Charlotte’s reluctance to release the video stands in contrast to Oklahoma, where officials on Monday released footage of the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher by police after his vehicle broke down on a highway.
Tulsa County prosecutors on Thursday charged the officer who shot Crutcher with first-degree manslaughter and issued a warrant for her arrest.