The Charlotte police officer who fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott on Sept. 20 “acted lawfully” and will not be charged with any crimes, a North Carolina prosecutor announced Wednesday.
“It’s a justified shooting based on the totality of the circumstances,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray said at a lengthy news conference Wednesday morning, according to the Washington Post.
Murray said the recommendation to not pursue charges against black officer Brentley Vinson came from a panel of 15 career prosecutors, who made the decision unanimously.
Scott was fatally shot after a confrontation with police in his apartment complex on the afternoon of Sept. 20. Police were there to serve a warrant on a separate individual when they noticed Scott rolling a marijuana blunt in his SUV.
According to Murray, police initially chose to ignore Scott, but after they saw him with a firearm, they decided to take action.
Murray said that evidence in the case shows that Scott stepped out of his SUV with a gun in his hand and ignored at least 10 commands from the five officers on the scene to drop it.
Murray said that Scott obtained the gun — which had been stolen in Gaston County — 18 days before the confrontation. One bullet was found in the chamber of the gun, the safety was off and Murray said Scott’s DNA was found on the grip and ammunition slide.
The account repudiates much of the speculation in the wake of the shooting, when many in the North Charlotte community contended that Scott was not armed and instead was in his SUV reading a book.
“There’s been some speculation in the community regarding whether Mr. Scott was armed,” Murray said, according to the Post. “All of the credible and available evidence suggests that he was, in fact, armed.”
At Wednesday’s news conference, Murray played a nearby store’s surveillance video that appeared to show the outline of a gun in a holster on Scott’s right ankle.
Body camera and dashcam recordings released earlier by the police department did not conclusively show that, and city officials were criticized for the length of time it took to release police video of the shooting.
Scott’s final moments also were recorded by his wife, Rakeyia, in a video shared widely on social media. She can be heard shouting to police that her husband “doesn’t have a gun.” She pleads with the officers not to shoot before a burst of gunfire can be heard.
The shooting lead to more than a week of tense unrest in Charlotte that saw the city’s downtown area damaged by several nights of riots. One person was even murdered amid the violence, which led to a city-wide curfew. Gov. Pat McCrory (R) sent National Guard troops to help calm the city.
In a statement acknowledging the decision, CMPD said that they accept the decision of the Mecklenburg County DA’s office to not pursue charges. They also emphasized the tragedy of two families being forever changed, while stating their dedication to ensure that what happened on Sept. 20 doesn’t happen again in a long and thorough list of department reforms.
The city of Charlotte also declared in a statement that they intended to learn from what happened in order to build a stronger city.
— City of Charlotte (@CLTgov) November 30, 2016
The Associated Press contributed to this story.