Wednesday, June 20, 2018
News Roundup

Charlotte officer to face no charges in black man's killing

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte police officer whose fatal shooting of a black man outside an apartment complex touched off several nights of unrest in the city was justified in opening fire and will not face charges, a prosecutor announced Wednesday.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray spent 40 minutes during a news conference meticulously outlining the evidence that led him and a team of 15 other prosecutors to determine Officer Brentley Vinson's actions in killing Keith Lamont Scott were justified. He also released his report online.

Lawyers for Scott's family say they still have questions and haven't decided whether to file a lawsuit.

Scott's family has said he wasn't armed.

However, Murray displayed a nearby store's surveillance video taken shortly before the incident, showing the outline of what appeared to be a holstered gun on Scott's ankle. He said Scott's DNA was found on a Colt .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun recovered at the scene. He shared a Facebook conversation from the man who said he sold the stolen gun to Scott and recognized him from TV coverage after the shooting and police radio traffic where officers talked about the gun before confronting Scott.

The prosecutor asked the public to review his findings before protesting again. Two nights of protests after the shooting led to looted stores near the scene and in downtown Charlotte, millions of dollars of damage and more than two dozen injuries to police officers and others, including one fatal shooting.

"The community should read the report. Digest the report. Please do not act viscerally on news snippets," Murray said.

Immediately after the shooting, a video of Scott's final moments recorded by his wife, Rakeyia, was posted on social media. In it, she could be heard shouting to police that her husband "doesn't have a gun." She pleaded with the officers not to shoot before a burst of gunfire could be heard.

Through their lawyers, Scott's family said they were profoundly disappointed at the decision not to charge Vinson, but thanked Murray for meeting with them for an hour to answer their questions.

Their lawyers asked anyone upset to work on changing a system that lets officers shoot people without taking more steps to prevent confrontations from becoming deadly. They said they understood why prosecutors decided not to file charges.

"That does not mean that this officer's killing of Keith Scott was right. All that means is that under the view of the DA's office, it wasn't criminal. And those are two completely different things," Scott family attorney Justin Bamberg said.

Rakeyia Scott stood behind the lawyers with her sister, Rachel Dotch. They didn't speak to reporters.

The shooting happened after plainclothes officers went to the complex on Sept. 20 looking for a suspect with an outstanding warrant when two undercover officers saw Scott — not the suspect they were looking for — inside a car with a gun and marijuana, Murray said.

They left to get backup, then returned to arrest Scott. Officers said Scott exited the SUV with a gun, ignored at least 10 orders to drop the weapon and appeared to be in a trance, Murray said.

Vinson told investigators that Scott locked his eyes on him, on each of the other officers and then on Vinson again.

"I felt like if I didn't do anything right then, at that point it's like he was going to shoot me or he's going to shoot one of my buddies, and it was going to happen right now," Vinson told investigators the next day.

Scott, 43, died of gunshot wounds to the abdomen and to the back near his shoulder. Murray said the bullets' trajectory showed Scott was most likely shot first in the abdomen, and the shoulder wound happened after he hunched over.

Vinson, who is also black, had been with the department for two years at the time.

Scott spent nearly a decade in prison in Texas on an assault with a deadly weapon charge and had warrants out for his arrest from neighboring Gaston County the day he died, Murray said.

Scott's wife had told reporters and investigators her husband had no gun. But in August, the couple had argued on text messages about the weapon, with Rakeyia Scott reminding her husband he could get 25 years in prison because he was a felon who wasn't supposed to have one.

The case was among a series across the country since mid 2014 that spurred a national debate over race and policing.

A murder trial is underway in Charleston, S.C., for a since-fired white patrolman, Michael Slager, in the death last year of a black man, Walter Scott, who was shot while running from a traffic stop in April.

A Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile during a July traffic stop remains free as a manslaughter case against him proceeds.

Deaths of other unarmed black males at the hands of law enforcement officers have inspired protests under the "Black Lives Matter" moniker.

Comments
Couple leased someone else’s home to 12 families at same time, Largo police say

Couple leased someone else’s home to 12 families at same time, Largo police say

LARGO — At least 12 families leased the same Largo home at the same time and lost as much as $4,300 each in a fraud scheme run by a couple who portrayed themselves as owners of the property, Largo police said.Police learned of the scheme Tuesday afte...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Passenger in Bayshore crash that killed mother and toddler pleads not guilty

Passenger in Bayshore crash that killed mother and toddler pleads not guilty

TAMPA — Tristan Herrin, a passenger in the speeding black Mustang that struck and killed a woman and her young daughter last month as they tried to cross Bayshore Boulevard, renewed his not guilty plea Wednesday to a misdemeanor street racing charge....
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Driver in fatal Tampa hit-and-run turns himself in

Driver in fatal Tampa hit-and-run turns himself in

TAMPA — The driver who was sought in a fatal hit-and-run on Sunday night has turned himself in.Police say Roger Herelle, 33, told detectives Wednesday he was involved in the crash that killed Sally Ann McClellan Webb, 58.Police had had been seeking t...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Five guns taken in 30 reported break-ins of unlocked cars in Clearwater

Five guns taken in 30 reported break-ins of unlocked cars in Clearwater

CLEARWATER — Thieves have made off with at least five guns after breaking into unlocked vehicles in recent days, police said Wednesday morning.Over the past three days, a group of people have been breaking into unlocked vehicles across the city. Clea...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Police investigating body found floating near Davis Islands

Police investigating body found floating near Davis Islands

TAMPA — Police are working to recover a body that was found floating in the water near the Davis Island Sea Basin on Wednesday morning.It is uncertain how the body ended up there, according to police.This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Developer proposes Sprouts Farmers Market for Land O’Lakes

Developer proposes Sprouts Farmers Market for Land O’Lakes

LAND O’LAKES – A Sarasota developer is proposing to turn a vacant Winn-Dixie store in central Pasco into a Sprouts Farmers Market.Benderson Development filed preliminary plans Monday with Pasco County to redevelop the former Winn-Dixie store at the n...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

BROOKSVILLE — With dust still settling from the Hernando County School Board’s close vote to fire Superintendent Lori Romano — and days before her time as head of the district runs out — school officials and community members seem to be already movin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning announce home opener: Oct. 6 vs. Panthers

Lightning announce home opener: Oct. 6 vs. Panthers

The Tampa Bay Lightning will announce their full 2018-19 schedule on Thursday, but the league announced each home opener Wednesday, with Tampa Bay playing host to the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena on Saturday, Oct. 6.The Lightning will know their ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

BROOKSVILLE — As schools and districts across the state await their 2018 grades from the Florida Department of Education, the standardized test scores that factor into those ratings and were dropped last week show slight gains in Hernando County.The ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Top 5 at noon: Berkeley prep revolts against graduate Kirstjen Nielsen; Lawsuit against St. Pete alleges racial motivations; and more

Top 5 at noon: Berkeley prep revolts against graduate Kirstjen Nielsen; Lawsuit against St. Pete alleges racial motivations; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com.TAMPA’S BERKELEY PREP GRADS LEAD REVOLT AGAINST ONE OF THEIR OWN: KIRSTJEN NIELSENWhen Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen went on national television Monday and dismissed criticism o...
Updated: 2 hours ago