Justice

Ex-Police Officer Goes off Script to Question Story of Keith Lamont Scott

Few answers and more questions remain after Charlotte police released some of the video evidence on Saturday pertaining to the officer-involved shooting of a black man there last Tuesday.

One of the biggest outstanding questions is whether or not Keith Lamont Scott was in possession of a gun during the fatal encounter. This still remains unclear after the release of the footage. Another question is whether or not the officers saw marijuana in the vehicle with Scott. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) has cited both in their explanation for why Scott was shot and killed by officers.

But now a retired police officer is crossing the blue line and questioning the CMPD's story. 

Appearing Sunday morning on CNN, retired police sergeant Cheryl Dorsey told anchor Fredricka Whitfield that CMPD police chief Kerr Putney's story "doesn't jive."

According to Putney, Scott was observed by Charlotte police sitting in his car with marijuana and a gun before they responded. As Putney explained during a news conference, "There was a crime that he had committed [possessing marijuana] that caused the encounter, and then the gun exacerbated that encounter."

After reviewing the CMPD's statements and the footage that has been released, however, Dorsey disagrees. And there are two areas that the former Los Angeles Police Department sergeant finds troubling. 

1. She finds the video footage to be "problematic." 

"The video is not conclusive with regard to what the officers’ statements are," said Dorsey to CNN.

She points to the fact that Scott appears to be moving away from police at the time he was shot, commenting that she did not see any "furtive movements" that would indicate that Scott was an "imminent physical threat to himself and the other officers," as was claimed by police. She also suggests that only releasing a portion of the video is troubling, something that others have seized on as well. The video is also lacking 20 seconds of audio.

Charlotte police say that further footage will be released at a later date.

2. She calls into question the additional details provided in the "case update" released by the department on Saturday.

When asked by Whitfield about claims that Scott was "rolling what [police] believed to be a marijuana 'blunt,'" according the official report, Dorsey didn't mince words. 

"I don’t smoke marijuana, and I don’t roll joints, but I do know that all that activity happens in your lap," responded the retired officer. "So I’m not sure how these officers were able from their position seated in their car to see Mr. Scott rolling a joint and then conclude that's criminal activity occurring that’s so egregious and outrageous that they need to leave their post and deal with that."

She had similarly critical comments about the claim that Scott had a gun at the time of the incident, noting that North Carolina is an open carry state — meaning that there was no reason for officers to automatically assume that he was breaking the law. This fact was not lost on some on Twitter, who shared their feeling that open carry is not applied equally to people regardless of race.

Dorsey adds, "This thing could have been handled so differently."

Watch the whole interview below:

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