No Charges for Charlotte Officer Who Shot and Killed Keith Lamont Scott

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Brentley Vinson, the Charlotte police officer who shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott in September, will not face charges, a county district attorney said on Wednesday. “Officer Vinson acted lawfully when he shot Mr. Scott,” Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray said in an hour-long press conference. He said the evidence points to Scott possessing a firearm during the incident–which officers at the scene said at the time, but some witnesses refuted–and that Vinson acted in self defense.

“A police officer or any other person is justified in using deadly force if he reasonably believed, and in fact believed, that he or another person was in imminent danger of great bodily injury or death,” Murray wrote in his report of the investigation. Fifteen total prosectors unanimously agreed to not press charges on Vinson.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, which spurred impassioned protests in Charlotte, officers, witnesses, and enraged protestors debated about whether Scott had a gun on him. Officers said he had a loaded .380 semiautomatic handgun, and a holster strapped to his ankle. In his report, Murray listed the evidence that supported that claim: Scott’s DNA was found on the grip of the handgun; the person who (illegally) sold Scott the gun admitted to doing so; and convenience store footage preceding the incident shows Scott with a bulge on his ankle.

On the afternoon of September 20, officers pulled into the parking lot of an apartment complex in Charlotte’s University City neighborhood, searching for someone with an outstanding warrant. Scott was sitting in his car, holding a gun and a marijuana blunt, according to the officers’ accounts. He exited the car, repeatedly ignored demands to drop his gun, and Vinson opened fire. A video recorded by his wife Rakeyia did not clearly show Scott with a weapon.

Scott’s family was “gracious,” when they were briefed about the prosecutor’s decision, Murray said. In a statement, they said: “While we understand that many in the Charlotte area share our frustration and pain, we ask that everyone work together to fix the system that allowed this tragedy to happen in the first place.” They also addressed the sometimes violent protests that erupted following Scott’s death in their statement: “Responding to violence with violence is never an appropriate response.”

Alec Siegel
Alec Siegel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. When he’s not working at Law Street he’s either cooking a mediocre tofu dish or enjoying a run in the woods. His passions include: gooey chocolate chips, black coffee, mountains, the Animal Kingdom in general, and John Lennon. Baklava is his achilles heel. Contact Alec at



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