policelights

Rioting broke out in Charlotte, NC last night after police officers searching for a man with an outstanding warrant in an apartment complex in the northeast part of the city encountered another man they say was brandishing a firearm. When officers approached the man, he allegedly “posed an imminent deadly threat” and was shot.

Charlotte’s Tuesday night protests began on Old Concord Road at Bonnie Lane, where a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer fatally shot a man in the parking lot of a University City apartment complex Tuesday afternoon.

The man who died was identified late Tuesday as Keith Lamont Scott, 43, and the officer who fired the fatal shot was CMPD Officer Brentley Vinson, a police statement said.

Police said they had been searching for someone who had an outstanding warrant at The Village at College Downs complex on Old Concord Road when they saw Scott leave his car holding a gun.

Officers approached Scott after he got back into the car. He emerged from the car again armed with a firearm “and posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers, who subsequently fired their weapon striking the subject,” police said in a statement. “The officers immediately requested Medic and began performing CPR.”

Medic took Scott to Carolinas Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Scott was not the person officers were searching for to arrest on the outstanding warrants, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney told reporters later.

Police said they recovered the firearm Scott was holding. But a woman who said she is Scott’s daughter claimed on a live-streamed video on Facebook that Scott was unarmed when he was shot. The video went viral, with more than 521,000 views by 9:30 p.m.

In the video, the woman said her father was sitting in his car reading a book and waiting for the school bus to drop off his son. She claimed that her father was Tasered and then shot four times, and that he was disabled.

“IT WAS A BOOK” one protester’s sign read.

Okay, let’s try to suss out what we know of the death of Keith Lamont Scott, and try to use logic and reason to separate already rampaging ignorance from rumors.

Book or Gun?

The Scott family says that Mr. Scott was shot for holding a book. CMPD Chief Kerry Putney says Mr. Scott had a gun.

Which is more likely? Let’s look a the totality of the circumstances.

The incident took place took place shortly before 4:00 PM on an overcast day. Because of the time of day and the lighting conditions, there is very little likelihood of glare or bright sunlight or reduced lighting conditions creating any sort of visual problems for the officers.

The officers on the warrant team claim that Mr. Scott left the car holding the gun, and then returned to the car holding the gun.

As books and guns are shaped quite differently, they are not going to be held the same way, either.

Then there is the fact that we are talking officers, not “an officer.” They—multiple officers—saw him holding a gun. It’s plausible that a single officer or even a group of officers may misidentify one object for a different kind of object under difficult lighting conditions, especially if the have a preconceived tendency to suspect that person they are approaching is carrying that specific kind of object.

But that’s not the case here, is it?

CMPD officers were not looking Keith Lamont Scott. They were looking for a different man, when multiple officers then apparently saw Scott brandishing a firearm in his hand under favorably lighting conditions on an overcast afternoon.

There is also the apparent fact that officers recovered a firearm at the scene, from Mr. Scott’s possession.

Multiple positive visual IDs of a weapon under favorable lighting conditions by numerous people, plus the physical recovery of a gun makes me lean towards the gun being the more likely object in Mr. Scott’s possession.

“But North Carolina Is An Open Carry State”

There are some Internet law experts (Juris Doctor, Facebook) who are willing to concede that yes, since CMPD recovered a firearm from the scene, and apparently from Mr. Scott’s possession, that he probably had a gun. They still complain shooting him because he had a gun in his hand is still wrong because, “North Carolina is an open carry state.”

They clearly have no idea what constitutes the lawful open carry of a handgun.

This is lawful open carry.

This is the lawful open carry of a handgun by Rick Ector.

You will note that the firearm in question is holstered, and visible from the front, side and rear. This is lawful open carry.

That is not remotely what the CMPD officers reporting seeing, is it?

The officers very specifically stated that the first time they saw the handgun that Keith Lamont Scott was holding it.

In his hand.

This is not lawful.

Tamir Rice was brandishing, which is a misdemeanor crime in Ohio.

This is called brandishing a firearm, which is a crime.

Did It Stop With Brandishing?

But the officers did not open fire because Mr. Scott was merely brandishing a firearm, did they?

Why did they say they opened fire?

Officers approached Scott after he got back into the car. He emerged from the car again armed with a firearm “and posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers, who subsequently fired their weapon striking the subject,” police said in a statement. “The officers immediately requested Medic and began performing CPR.”

They don’t precisely say what he did, unfortunately.

As a general rule of thumb, however, officers are generally only going to consider a fellow citizen as an “imminent deadly threat” if they are issuing a threat of some sort with a weapon in their hands, or are actively pointing/manipulating that firearm in some fashion which the officer interprets as being about to fire the gun at the officer.

It is going to be very interesting to see what details emerge later today and in the days ahead regarding the shooting of Keith Scott.