Raleigh, N.C. — State Senate leader Phil Berger pushed Friday for Charlotte officials to release police video of the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott before a state law takes effect Saturday that would take that decision out of their hands.
Scott, 43, was killed by a police officer on Sept. 20, leading to days of protests in Charlotte. Police said he had a gun and refused officers' commands to drop it. His family said he never posed a threat to police.
After initially resisting releasing any of the video recorded by body cameras and dashboard cameras of officers at the scene of the shooting, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney released a few minutes of video last weekend to support the police version of events. An attorney for the family said, however, that it's unclear what Scott had in his hands and that the video shows he never made any threatening moves or gestures.
Under the new state law, a court order would be required to publicly release any police video, even if authorities want to release it.
"For 10 days, you have ignored the fact that the City of Charlotte has been the sole custodian of this footage, and that it has been entirely within the city’s discretion to release it," Berger, R-Rockingham, wrote in a letter to Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts. "Since today marks your final opportunity to do the right thing of your own volition and immediately release all videos to the public, I write to once again strongly encourage you to do so."
Roberts couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Berger said Charlotte "in in upheaval" and that the trust between city leaders and the community is crumbling. Releasing all police video in the Scott case could help rebuild that trust, he said.
"Building trust in a community in which it is severely lacking at present will require transparency and honesty with the public," he wrote to Roberts. "Leaders are elected for such a time as this. I sincerely hope you will do the right thing for Charlotte and for North Carolina and release the footage today."