Peaceful marches, vigil remember Keith Scott shooting one year later
Author: Fred Shropshire, Mark Boyle, Rad Berky
Published: 7:32 PM EDT September 19, 2017
Updated: 11:54 PM EDT September 20, 2017

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the death of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, who was fatally shot by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer near his home in northeast Charlotte.

On this first anniversary of the police shooting of Keith Scott, there was a march through the streets of Uptown, stopping at some of the locations that played a role in the disturbances that followed the shooting.

Under a sweltering sun, about 50 marchers left Marshal Park. Their first stop: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police headquarters.

Among the marchers was Corine Mack, head of the Charlotte chapter of the NAACP who said she had not seen much change in the city in the year following the shooting.

Mack said she had met with CMPD Chief Kerr Putney who had listened to the organization's concerns.

"I'm hoping people realize that one man can't make a change. We have to all come together and help make a change.

Marchers also stopped on East Trade Street outside both the Hyatt and Omni hotels where a year ago, violence broke out between CMPD officers and protestors.

A demonstrator named Justin Carr was shot and killed that night outside the Omni. Police said he was shot by Rayquan Borum, another demonstrator, who police say had brought a gun to the demonstration.

Outgoing Mayor Jennifer Roberts was at the march along with the Democratic Mayoral candidate Vi Lyles and Republican mayoral candidate Kenny Smith.

Mack says, going forward, the community will be watching what the winners do.

"We are going to have a new City Couoncil and I'm hoping, though they may be new, that we citizens hold them accountable.

The march Wednesday was peaceful and there were no arrests.

CMPD chief shares what he’d say to Keith Scott’s family

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the death of 43-year-old Keith Scott, who was fatally shot by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer near his home in northeast Charlotte.

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer killed Scott because he didn't follow orders to drop his gun. The next few nights, there was violence in the streets.

The chief of police revealed to NBC Charlotte's Fred Shropshire what he would tell the Scott family. Shropshire sat down with Chief Kerr Putney to get re got some answers to the lingering questions about the shooting and its fallout.

On Monday, the Scott family released a statement, which said in part:

They remain hopeful that Keith's death will not have been in vain and that meaningful changes will occur within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department as it relates to the de-escalation of citizen conflicts and the use of deadly force.

“What do you say to them a year later?” asked Shropshire.

"Those are exactly the steps we're taking based on recommendations," Putney said.

Putney was referring to the recommendations from Charlotte's Citizen Review Board. Back in June, the board sided with Keith Scott's family in its appeal to CMPD's findings his shooting was justified.

Last week, the chief unveiled a number of the board's recommendations he's currently reviewing within his department.

"We've already done an initial de-escalation training for all of our officers," Putney said. "And the body camera. The big thing is around transparency and now everybody from the rank of major all the way to the street cop has a camera on and off duty."

“What do you say to those folks who still have a problem with transparency?” Shropshire asked.

"It would be great if we could have cameras everywhere that you go,” Putney said. “But do you really want a police state?”

“A major part of the conversation that we've had before and that we continue to have, especially following this, is community engagement, right? How do you think the community is doing?" Shropshire asked.

"A lot of people are doing fantastic work,” Putney responded. “Some of the people protesting are now teaching us how to do it even better. You have Heal Charlotte for example. The YMCA with the Summer of Opportunities was a fantastic effort. We have a lot of other organizations that have really stepped up to connect with us."

Putney shared his point-of-view on the protests that took place in St. Louis and the Georgia Tech campus in Atlanta.

"What those images bring back to me is that if you're not careful there is a narrative that can take root that can get out in front of you as a police organization so we've got to be a lot more proactive in getting that message out as well," he said.

"It's not a factor of if this happens again, it's when it happens again you can't control people's animosity toward the police. We saw it happen in the form of rioting and protesting aimed toward your police officers. What do you do differently in those moments?" Shropshire asked.

"We can't control a protest when you have individuals who want to commit crimes under the guise of protests,” Putney said. “Use the protests as their shield, but we're going to hold those people who commit crimes accountable."

When asked if he feels like he is doing enough, Putney said he is never satisfied.

"I told our people and I challenged them to a year ago, 'Lean in, lead with your heart,’” said the chief of police. “Unfortunately, sometimes things don't go our way. Your heart will get broken, but that's ok. The strength of a man or woman is how you get up from being knocked down."


Peaceful marches, vigil remember Keith Scott shooting one year later

Chapter 1

The day that changed Charlotte

The shooting of Keith Scott led to days of civil unrest, riots, and questions regarding the transparency of CMPD's investigation.

When CMPD arrived at the Village at College Downs apartments on September 20, 2016, they were there to serve a warrant on someone else. But an officer noticed Keith Lamont Scott sitting in a car with a gun. Police asked Scott to exit the vehicle and ordered him to drop the weapon.

Scott’s wife recorded the exchange on her cell phone. In the background, hear screams can be heard as officers order Scott to drop the weapon. When he didn’t, CMPD officer Brentley Vinson fired his service weapon, killing Scott. Police body cameras recorded it all.

Scott’s death came on the heels of several high-profile shootings of African-Americans by police across the country. The shooting triggered an uproar that same night, leading to several arrests near the scene of the incident as police tried to control an angry group of people.

I-85 protests
<p>CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 21: A police officer stands guard near a fire on the I-85 (Interstate 85) during protests in the early hours of September 21, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)</p>

Fast forward to the next night on September 21. Riots broke out in uptown — police in riot gear, protesters wore masks to cover their faces. One protester, Justin Carr, was shot and killed by another protester. In a video recently released by CMPD, you can see a large crowd scatter in all directions after the shooting.

There was unrest in the Queen City. Curfews were put in place, dozens of people were arrested for looting the EpiCentre and surrounding businesses. The community was on edge, questioning how police handled the killing of Keith Scott, and moreover, the transparency of CMPD in the following days.

CMPD Chief Kerr Putney remained in front of the public, working to answer questions, but still, the protesting and civil unrest continued. It wasn’t until the National Guard moved in to regain control of the streets that the violence ceased. In the end, Officer Vinson was not charged with a crime in connection with Scott’s death.

An attorney representing Keith Scott’s family released the following statement Monday:

“They remain hopeful that Keith’s death will have been in vain and that meaningful changes will occur within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department as it relates to the de-escalation of citizen conflicts and the use of deadly force.”

Chapter 2

Keith Scott shooting: A timeline of events

Here are the key events that occurred in the aftermath of Keith Scott's death.

September 20: Keith Scott is fatally shot by CMPD officer Brentley Vinson. In the hours immediately following Scott's shooting, protests near the scene turn violent and lead to multiple arrests and the looting of several tractor-trailers on I-85.

September 21: Riots break out in the streets of uptown. One protester, identified as Justin Carr, is fatally shot by another protester during the chaos. During the protests, Ken Nwadike is spotted giving officers hugs to spread the love amid the violence.

"Just as I see them as human beings, we're all human beings. The uniform doesn't make him a robot. Just like your uniform, your skin color, doesn't make you a criminal."

September 22: Troops from the North Carolina National Guard arrive in Charlotte after Governor Pat McCrory declared a State of Emergency in an effort to stop violent protests in uptown. Jennifer Roberts places Charlotte under a midnight curfew that remains in effect for several days.

Justin Bamberg, an attorney representing the Scott family, says after viewing the unreleased CMPD videos, the family "has more questions than answers."

September 24: CMPD releases the dash cam and one body cam video of the fatal shooting of Keith Scott. Legal analyst M. Quentin Williams, a former FBI agent, breaks down the video for NBC Charlotte. Williams says the video is difficult to decipher, and that if Scott did indeed have a gun, the officers could have perceived an imminent threat.

"It's a tough call but since these officers are in danger I could see why some might consider it justified," Williams said.

September 26: Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts pens Op-Ed in The Charlotte Observer, criticizing CMPD's investigation of the shooting.

"The lack of transparency and communication about the timing of the investigation and release of video footage was not acceptable, and we must remedy that immediately. I have talked to officials in Loretta Lynch’s Department of Justice to monitor the investigation into Mr. Scott’s death, and to review CMPD use of force procedures more broadly. Our city must be more open, honest and transparent in investigating police shootings if we are to restore trust."

September 27: NBC Charlotte partners with several other media outlets to officially request the release of all footage and other public records connected to Keith Scott's fatal encounter with CMPD. This request is denied by the City of Charlotte and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

September 29: Following a week of demonstrations and sometimes violent protests, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney says he hasn't considered resignation.

"You can fire me but you will never see me quit," said Putney, defending his decision to not release dash cam and body cam footage of the Scott shooting at the public's request. "To say I could have released it then to quell what might happen the rest of the night Tuesday into Wednesday is not very realistic or logical."

October 4: CMPD releases the complete body cam and dash cam footage of Scott's shooting. Attorneys representing Scott's family said the video brought no clarification for the family, and that even if Scott did have a gun, the family doesn't believe the shooting was justified.

October 12: The wife of Keith Scott tells CBS News that race was to blame for the fatal shooting of her husband.

She also said she doesn't believe police are telling the truth about the African American officer who shot her husband.

"Officer Vinson, I don't believe shot my husband," Rakeyia said. "Because of the positioning when the shooting actually occurred, I did see him, but he was at a distance, he's not a part of the interaction."

October 14: The funeral for Keith Scott is held in his hometown in Charleston County, S.C., more than three weeks after his death.

"I just hope the city comes together and I Just hope his death doesn't go in vain," said Scott's cousin Harold Smalls.

October 21: Charlotte officials estimate the violent protests of Scott's death cost the city more than $4.5 million. Nearly $4 million of the total went to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police for payroll.

November 14: The official autopsy report for Keith Scott is released. The report states that Scott was shot three times. A toxicology report in the case shows Scott was on a number of sedatives/anticonvulsant drugs at the time of his death including Amantadine, Diazepam, Gabapentin, Nordiazepam, and Promethazine.

November 30: Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray announces that Brentley Vinson will not face charges in the shooting of Keith Scott. Murray says that 15 "career prosecutors" oversaw the case and reached a unanimous decision not to charge Vinson.

June 27, 2017: The Charlotte Citizens Review Board sides with the Scott family in their appeal of CMPD's findings that the shooting was justified. The Board votes 8-2, saying there was "substantial evidence of error" in CMPD's decision.

August 9, 2017: The Charlotte Citizens Review Board votes evenly 4-4 on whether the fatal shooting of Keith Scott was justified. The Board's chair said they will make policy recommendations to CMPD following the vote.

September 12, 2017: A judge orders the release of surveillance video from several cameras that captured some of the violent moments that took place during the September 2016 uptown Charlotte protests.

Chapter 3

Analyzing the Keith Scott videos

A former FBI agent goes frame by frame to determine if Scott's shooting was justified.

On October 4, 2016, the public finally got its first look at the dash cam and one body cam video released by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police of the fatal shooting of Keith Scott.

The videos are excruciating to watch, and as Chief Putney suggested, still don’t paint a clear picture.

But our analyst did point out some interesting things in the new footage.

Can't see the video? Click here to watch raw dash cam. WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO

Can't see the video? Click here to watch body cam video. WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO

The dash cam video released shows the broader picture. Analyst M. Quentin Williams, a former FBI agent who literally wrote a book titled, "How Not to Get Killed by a Police Officer," went frame by frame on the videos with NBC Charlotte.

He says what nearly everyone is thinking — it is disturbing and difficult to watch. But he says pay attention as Keith Scott comes out of his car, using his left hand to open the door, saying clearly there is no gun in that hand.

“He’s complying, he’s complying,” Williams says, watching the dash camera video.

But he says we also know from Scott’s wife’s cell phone video that the officers are repeatedly yelling drop the gun.

Williams says, “That’s the question where was the gun, this video you can't tell where the gun was.”

In the video, you can see Scott’s wearing an ankle holster on his right leg. Williams says that means the gun would likely be in his right hand, but you just can’t tell on the dash or body cam

Attorneys for the family say Scott looks to be complying with police.

One attorney says, “He doesn’t appear to be acting aggressive towards any of the law enforcement officers on the scene, it appears he has his hands at his side.”

But our analyst points out, “He’s complying in every way — he didn’t get out shooting, he got our backwards complying, but it only takes a millisecond to turn and shoot this officer and this officer.”

Because our analyst says if Scott has a gun in his right hand — and that’s what's not clear — then the officers were obviously in danger.

And police chief Kerr Putney says these videos, pieced together with physical and scientific evidence, along with what the officers involved say, show officer Vinson was justified.

The chief told reporters, “Officers are absolutely not being charged by me at this point. He was absolutely in possession of a handgun.”

Williams adds watching the video is just a piece of the puzzle.

“It’s a tough call but since these officers are in danger I could see why some might consider it justified,” said Williams.

Chapter 4

IMPACT team cuts through racial tensions

&quot;At about seventh grade, particularly with black boys and policemen, the relationship changes.&quot;

September 20, 2016, will forever be a day that rocked Charlotte. That afternoon a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott. The city erupted in protests and riots. The shooting exposed a racial divide and put city leaders to the test.

The unrest in uptown reignited an issue that’s been talked about for years in our living rooms, our dining rooms and even in our newsrooms.

“This is not something new,” said WCNC Anchor Fred Shropshire, regarding the adversarial history of the black community with police.

So NBC Charlotte put together an IMPACT team of community leaders and parents to see what we could do. How could we make a real impact?

Shropshire took those questions to where a lot of conversations begin: the local barbershop, ‘Da Lucky Spot.’ The conversation was frank.

“In my neighborhood where I grew up at, you just felt like you were already guilty and you didn’t do anything,” said Pastor Derwin Gray, Transformation Church.

Shropshire recounted a visit to the courthouse with his cousin and grandfather when he was about 10-years-old. His grandfather took them to traffic court and said, “Watch how that young man is dressed and how they treat him.”

It was the beginning of a lifelong conversation about how to conduct himself around police officers. It was a story that others in the room could relate to.

“Racism is a human heart issue,” said counselor Chris McCarthy. “Regardless of color, we all have some racism to deal with and we all have to be humble and to work toward others and breaking down those walls.”

This conversation is a start.

The biggest challenge? According to Garry McFadden, it’s commitment.

“Everyone’s going to come out during the riots. Everybody’s going to come out after the shooting. But where are you on Monday, Wednesday and Friday? There is zero consistency.”

Shaun Corbett, who created Cops and Barbers, believes in leading by example.

“It’s on us, as well, because elders, as we get older in the community, we pass that negative thought process down to the younger generation,” he said. “So what happens is you’ll have some kids that don’t even know why they don’t like police. They just know that they don’t. You know what I’m saying? But we also have to, as men in the community, make being an officer an honorable profession again.”

The small group agreed that it starts with building relationships.

Experts say children are the most impressionable around the sixth grade or the start of middle school.

“At a certain age, there’s a crossover in terms of how you see people. So it’s really important to hit them right around that age so as they’re really starting to understand developmentally, psychologically, and they’re starting to understand, 'oh this is a police officer, this what he does, this is his job.' But if there’s no relationship there, they’re going to have a fear response,” said McCarthy.

Derwin said there needs to be a relationship between police officers and kids.

“At about seventh grade, particularly with black boys and policemen, the relationship changes. It’s not a cute kid anymore."

To learn more about IMPACT, click here.

IMPACT is a solution-based news segment to air as problems arise in our community. The IMPACT team is a group of journalists and community activists who work together to solve problems-- large and small-- that affect our viewers. The team embeds themselves within a community to truly understand the problem and show it to our audiences in real and authentic ways-- not your typical news stories. Our IMPACT team implements solutions to have a positive IMPACT in the neighborhoods in which we live.