CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Video of a deadly encounter between Charlotte police and a black man shows his wife repeatedly telling officers he is not armed and pleading with them not to shoot her husband as they shout at him to drop a gun.
The footage, recorded by Keith Lamont Scott’s wife and released Friday by his family, offers a raw look at how the situation unfolded but does not show whether Scott had a gun as police have said. Uncertainty about the case prompted a fourth night of demonstrations through Charlotte’s business district.
After darkness fell, dozens or people carried signs and chanted to urge police to release dashboard and body camera video that could show more clearly what happened. Police have said Scott was armed, but witnesses say he held only a book.
The 2 ½-minute video released by the family does not show the shooting, though gunshots can be heard. In the video Scott’s wife, Rakeyia Scott, tells officers that he has a TBI, or traumatic brain injury. At one point, she tells her husband to get out of the car so police don’t break the windows. She also tells him, “don’t do it,” but it’s not clear exactly what she means.
As the encounter escalates, she repeatedly urges police, “You better not shoot him.”
After the gunshots, Scott can be seen lying face-down on the ground while his wife says “he better live.” She continues recording and asks if an ambulance has been called. The officers stand over Scott. It’s unclear if they are checking him for weapons or attempting to give first aid.
In the footage, Scott’s wife states the address and says, “These are the police officers that shot my husband.”
Representatives for the police department and the mayor’s office didn’t return emails from The Associated Press seeking comment on the family’s video.
The video emerged hours before the protesters took to the streets Friday night, monitored by rifle-toting members of the National Guard. The group appeared smaller than previous nights.
Protesters called on police to release video that could resolve wildly different accounts of the shooting earlier this week. Marchers at the front of the group carried a banner that said “Just Release the Tapes.”
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said Friday that there is footage from at least one police body camera and one dashboard camera.
The family of Scott, 43, was shown the footage Thursday and demanded that police release it to the public. The video recorded by Scott’s wife had not been previously released.
State Attorney General Roy Cooper also called on Charlotte officials to release the video, saying doing so would help bring the community and law enforcement together. Cooper, a Democrat, is running for governor in November.
Charlotte is the latest U.S. city to be shaken by protests and recriminations over the death of a black man at the hands of police, a list that includes Baltimore, Milwaukee, Chicago, New York and Ferguson, Missouri. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Thursday, prosecutors charged a white officer with manslaughter for killing an unarmed black man on a city street last week.
Thursday’s protests in Charlotte lacked the violence and property damage of previous nights, and a curfew enacted by the city’s mayor encouraged a stopping point.
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts signed documents to keep the curfew in effect from midnight until 6 a.m. each day until the state of emergency declared by the governor ends.
After the curfew took effect, police allowed the crowd of demonstrators to thin without forcing them off the street. Police Capt. Mike Campagna told reporters that officers would not seek to arrest curfew violators as long as they were peaceful.
Putney said Friday that releasing the footage of Scott’s death could inflame the situation. He has said previously that the video will be made public when he believes there is a “compelling reason” to do so.
“It’s a personal struggle, but I have to do what I think is best for my community,” Putney said.
During the same news conference, Roberts said she believes the video should be released, but “the question is on the timing.”
Earlier in the week, the Charlotte protests turned violent, with demonstrators attacking reporters and others, setting fires and smashing windows of hotels, office buildings and restaurants.
Forty-four people were arrested after Wednesday’s protests, and one protester who was shot died at the hospital Thursday. City officials said police did not shoot 26-year-old Justin Carr. A suspect was arrested, but police provided few details.
Putney said he has seen the video and it does not contain “absolute, definitive evidence that would confirm that a person was pointing a gun.” But he added: “When taken in the totality of all the other evidence, it supports what we said.”
Justin Bamberg, an attorney for Scott’s family, said it’s “impossible to discern” from the videos what, if anything, Scott is holding in his hands.
Scott never aggressively approached officers and was shot as he walked slowly backward with his hands by his side, Bamberg said.