Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray announced at a press conference on Wednesday morning that Officer Brentley Vinson would not be charged for his role in the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott.
“After a thorough review, and given the totality of the circumstances and credible evidence in this case, it is my opinion that Officer Vinson acted lawfully when he shot Mr. Scott,” he said.
Murray spent nearly an hour walking reporters through the evidence and the events of September 20, detailing officers’ encounter with Scott outside his SUV and building a case for self-defense. In addition to the normal process for DA investigations, Murray said he consulted with 15 outside prosecutors, who agreed with the decision not to pursue charges. “Their recommendation was unanimous,” he said.
Scott’s death set off days of riots in Charlotte after police initially refused to release body camera footage of the shooting. Officers insisted that Scott was threatening them with a gun at the time of his death, but his family questioned the legitimacy of those allegations, and none of the available video footage showed Scott pointing any weapon in the direction of the police.
But Murray was definitive on Wednesday. Besides the eyewitness testimony of the four officers on the scene, Murray said Scott’s DNA was found on the slide and grip of a gun that was recovered at the scene of the shooting. “All of the credible and available evidence suggests that he was in fact armed,” he said on Wednesday.
To date, no publicly released video footage of the incident has shown Scott brandishing a weapon.
In his walk-through of the evidence, Murray stated that Scott exited his vehicle in a “trance-like state,” and was unresponsive to police commands before being fired upon. In the aftermath of the shooting, Scott’s wife said she tried to tell police he had just taken medication related to a traumatic brain injury he sustained last year. Murray said Scott’s toxicology report would be included in a report his office plans to publish.
In addition to an internal investigation by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation launched an independent investigation of the shooting at the request of the district attorney. The findings of the SBI’s investigation were expected to be the basis for whether or not Vinson would face charges, and during his press conference, Murray said the district attorney’s office planned to share all of the findings of that investigation.