Charlotte police have staunchly refused to release dash cam or body cam video of the killing of Keith Lamont Scott and the reason why will infuriate you.
We know that calls for the release of footage showing the fatal shooting have come from the family, protesters, the state’s attorney general, and Hillary Clinton herself. We also know that Charlotte police chief Kerr Putney has chosen not to. And now we know why: because he’s trying to let the clock run out.
Police claim that Scott was brandishing a firearm, causing them to fear for their lives and claim that a gun was recovered from at the scene. Family members, however, tell a different story. They say Scott didn’t even own a gun and was holding a book, not a weapon.
Scott’s family was allowed to view the police videos but said that afterwards, they had more questions than answers. They once again called for the videos to be released to the public. When the footage was not released, Scott’s wife released footage of the incident that was shot with her cell phone. Unfortunately, it is not possible to see if Scott his holding a gun, a book, or anything else.
Putney and Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts both say they want to release the videos, really, they do. But they just don’t think now is the time since there is so much unrest in the city. You know, all those people on the streets demanding they release the damn videos. On Friday, Republican Gov. Pat. McCrory said that when it comes to deciding whether or not to release the video, “we’ve got a responsibility to follow the law.”
Enter the time clock I mentioned earlier.
At the moment, the decision to release the video lies with Chief Putney. But on Oct. 1, it will no longer be up to him. HB 972, a new bill signed into law by McCrory, goes into effect in just seven days and the decision will no longer be in Putney’s hands. When the new law takes effect on the first of the month, all dash and body cams will be considered personnel records rather than public records and releasing them to the public will require a court order.
This means that if Putney waits another week, he will be legally unable to release the video even if he wanted to. All he has to do is keep stalling a few more days and let the clock run out.
Not everyone is a fan of the new law, even those in law enforcement. When the law was passed, Burlington police chief Jeffrey Smythe said it will take away his “leeway.”
This gives me no leeway to manage public perception, and that’s probably not a good thing. So I’m a little disappointed that that avenue isn’t there, except by court order.
Fayetteville police chief Harold Medlock echoed the sentiments of his colleague.
I would rather let our video tell the story—good, bad or indifferent—than someone who has a cellphone who has the opportunity to edit it. Sometimes we do ourselves a great disservice by not disclosing as much information as we can.
As for now, the countdown is on and time is running out. Putney seems intent on dragging his feet, although Scott’s family upped the ante on Friday when they went public with the cell phone video recorded as the tragic events unfolded. But when the proverbial clock strikes zero, it will be too late and the footage caught on police video will be locked away until a judge steps in.
Featured image via video screen capture