In from Color of Change
BREAKING: Charlotte Police Chief, Kerr Putney, just made a partial release of dash cam and body cam footage of Keith Lamont Scott’s murder. And it’s devastating to watch.
None of the video shows definitive evidence of Keith Scott holding a gun as police have claimed–and after police shot and killed Keith Scott, they handcuffed his lifeless body. To make matters worse, Putney has still refused to release the full video, claiming it is not relevant to the shooting. A partial video release is not enough, but if this killing happened a week from today, even this would be impossible.
A new North Carolina law goes into effect on October 1st, and will prohibit any body-cam or dash-cam footage from being released to the public. It’s infuriating and a slap in the face to Black people who’ve been in the streets demanding transparency and reform.
We have to make sure North Carolina police can’t hide behind a blue wall of silence any longer.
Then we have this: HB972 Prohibits body and dash cam footage from being released to the public.
Charlotte is on fire. And Black people are in pain yet again as the news of Keith Lamont Scott’s killing hit less than 24 hours after news outlets plastered the video of Terence Crutcher’s murder on tv screens across the country.1
According to his family, Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old disabled man, was sitting in his car reading a book and waiting to pick his son up from school when he was shot and killed by Charlotte police. Yes, a book. They say he didn’t have a gun. And in a live video immediately after the incident, Keith’s daughter yelled at investigators not to plant a gun in his car. “Because that’s what the f**k y’all do,” she said.2
Charlotte police had no regard for Keith’s life and are telling a completely different tale of events leading to Keith’s killing. But a new North Carolina law could mean the public will never see the body cam footage.
North Carolina just passed a law, HB 972, that prohibits body and dash cam footage from being released to the public.3 And while the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief, Kerr Putney, has the authority to release the footage of Keith Lamont Scott’s death before the law goes into effect in October–he won’t. But the good news is that the Department of Justice has the authority to push them to do the right thing, and hit Charlotte police where it hurts–their pockets. Soon, the Justice Department will be announcing winners of their federal grant programs. If the DOJ refuses to award any new grants to North Carolina while this law is in place, they could force the state to reverse it. Will you sign the petition?
Police rolled up on Keith in plain clothes and were attempting to serve an arrest warrant for someone else. They had the wrong person. But in step with the dangerous police culture of hyper-violence and a “shoot first” mentality, Charlotte police acted in complete disregard for his life, shot and killed him. Now his children are without a father and a family is seeking answers–but Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are refusing to release the footage that could provide some.
Too often police have been caught lying. And the cases of Walter Scott, Terence Crutcher, Tamir Rice. Sandra Bland, LaQuan McDonald, and Sam Dubose show us the importance of having access to the video footage.4 North Carolina launched its universal body-cam program last year–yet they’ve barely gotten any good use out of it. Since May, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have shot and killed four people–and body cameras were turned on in only one.5 Still, lawmakers passed HB 972, a law that would prohibit the public from ever seeing body cam footage, unless they obtained a court order. It’s a slap in the face to any calls for transparency and accountability and defeats the entire purpose of even having body-cameras.
But even if local officials won’t use their power to release the video footage, the Department of Justice can. When North Carolina lawmakers passed a terribly transphobic law, HB 2, that allowed discrimination against transgender folks, the Justice Department threatened to sue the state–and even got them to back down from a counter-lawsuit.6 On Wednesday, Attorney General Lynch gave a speech noting the “sorrow, anger and uncertainty” people are feeling right now after dealing with the trauma of Black people being killed again, and again, and again.7 But the best way her office can assure accountability and transparency in Keith Lamont Scott’s murder is to take action against North Carolina’s terrible blue wall of silence. Keith’s family deserves justice and full transparency.
Until justice is real,
Arisha, Rashad, Scott, Clarise, Anay, and the rest of the Color Of Change team
“Keith Lamont Scott: 5 Fast Facts You Should Know,” Heavy, September 20, 2016
“Keith Scott shooting: Charlotte police say they warned him to drop handgun,” The Guardian, September 22, 2016
- “New North Carolina law might prevent Keith Lamont Scott body cam footage from release,” New York Daily News, September 21, 2016
- “Caught on Tape, Caught in a Lie: 5 Times Video Proved Police Were Lying,” The Root, February 22, 2016
- “Charlotte’s top cop claims he can’t show you videos that prove Keith Scott’s killing was justified,”ThinkProgress, September 21, 2016
- “North Carolina Governor Drops ‘Bathroom Bill’ Lawsuit Against U.S.,” NPR, September 19, 2016
- “Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Remarks at the International Bar Association’s 2016 Annual Conference,” The United States Department of Justice, September 21, 2016