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Prosecutor Says N.C. Officer Acted Lawfully In Shooting Death Of Black Man


The district attorney in Charlotte, N.C., announced today that he would not charge a police officer who shot and killed an African-American man in September. That shooting sparked days of violent protests. David Boraks of member station WFAE reports.

DAVID BORAKS, BYLINE: The decision by District Attorney Andrew Murray came two months after the September shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott. Undercover police were waiting to serve an arrest warrant in an unrelated case when they saw Scott in another car with marijuana and a gun. Police approached and ordered Scott out of his SUV. The confrontation was recorded by police body and dash cams and also by Scott's wife on her cell phone.


RAKEYIA SCOTT: Don't shoot him. Don't shoot him. He has no weapon. He has no weapon. Don't shoot him.

BORAKS: None of the videos showed him holding a gun, but today the district attorney laid out a detailed case that Scott did. And that's why when Scott wouldn't drop the gun, Officer Brentley Vinson fired at him. Murray said the shooting was justified because Vinson saw Scott as an imminent threat.


ANDREW MURRAY: What he saw was a man who had drawn a gun when confronted by police, exited a vehicle with a gun in hand and failed to comply with officers who commanded him at least ten times to put the gun down.

BORAKS: The State Bureau of Investigation, or SBI, took over the case. Prosecutors used those findings to make their decision. Murray said the investigation debunked many rumors about the shooting, like whether Scott's arms were raised when he was shot or that he was just reading a book.

MURRAY: Three of these witnesses claimed on social media or in media interviews that Scott was unarmed, but the FBI later determined they had not actually seen the shooting.

BORAKS: Police recovered a loaded pistol that Scott dropped after he was shot. The Scott family lawyer, Justin Bamberg, said he understands why the DA decided not to press charges.

JUSTIN BAMBERG: But that does not mean that this officer's killing of Keith Scott was right. All that means is that under the view of the DA's office, it wasn't criminal. And those are two completely different things.

BORAKS: The Scott family says it's disappointed and considering a civil lawsuit against police. And they're calling for people to remain calm, saying responding to violence with violence is never appropriate. For NPR News, I'm David Boraks in Charlotte. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Boraks is a WFAE weekend host and a producer for "Charlotte Talks." He's a veteran Charlotte-area journalist who has worked part-time at WFAE since 2007 and for other outlets including and The Charlotte Observer.