CHARLOTTE, NC – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney refused to release video footage of a police shooting that triggered intense protests in the city. He said he would only do so when there’s a compelling reason.
“It doesn’t give absolute definitive visual evidence that would confirm that a person is pointing a gun. I did not see that in the videos that I reviewed,” Chief Putney said in a news conference with the city officials.
When questioned about his promise of being transparent, Putney said, “Transparency is in the eye of the beholder,” Putney told reporters. “If you think I’m saying we should display a victim’s worst day for public consumption that is not the transparency I’m speaking of.”
Putney said his department would release the video only “when we believe it is a compelling reason”.
“I can tell you this: There’s your truth, my truth, and the truth,” Putney said. “Some people have already made up their minds.”
In a CNN News interview, Chief Putney said, “I’m not gonna release it because ultimately I think I have to do what I can to protect the integrity of the investigation … I think you could be destroying the trust of some of our most vulnerable victims especially those of domestic violence and sexual assault.”
When asked if he would reconsider if the Scott family would ask for the video to be released, he said, “We’re not gonna be the lead agency who handles the situation moving forward, so my ability to do so is gonna be more significantly limited anyway.”
The lead agency he’s referring to is the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations, an independent investigative authority.
When Putney was asked whether any of the videos he reviewed showed Scott with the gun, and if any of the videos showed him pointing the gun, the chief explained:
“I’m not able to see the correct angle, to see a weapon in his hand in the first place. The footage that I’ve seen doesn’t give that advantage point. The angle I can’t see his hands due to the angle, therefore I can’t see a weapon in his hands or pointing a weapon that would be in his hands. I can’t see, based on the angle, that definitive piece of visual evidence that I need.”
The family of Scott has watched two police videos but said they couldn’t tell what was in his hands. “It is impossible to discern from the videos what, if anything, Mr. Scott is holding in his hands,” attorney Justine Bamberg said.
Mayor Jennifer Roberts also watched the videos.
“It is not a very clear picture, and the gun in question is a small gun and it was not easy to see with the way the motion was happening,” she told Anderson Cooper 360.
The mayor said she is leaning toward releasing the footage to the public but must remain mindful of the ongoing investigations into Scott’s shooting.
North Carolina recently passed a law that blocks the release of police recordings from body or dashboard cameras with limited exceptions, but that law is not set to take effect until October
The volatile protests after that fatal incident have been “a difficult couple of days” for the city of Charlotte, according to Mayor Jennifer Roberts. She added, “This is not the Charlotte we know and love.”
On Wednesday, chaos transpired when demonstrators attempted to follow police in riot gear into a hotel lobby. Officers used tear gas, and then a gunshot was heard. A man was seen lying in the street near the hotel entrance.
The victim, identified as Justin Carr, 26, from Charlotte has died, police public information officer Robert Tufano told CNN. Because the crowd was too thick for paramedics to access the scene, he had to be evacuated by a SWAT armored personnel carrier. Authorities said he was shot by a civilian.
The homicide investigation delivered quick results. Rayquan Borum, 21, was charged Friday morning in the shooting death of Carr, according to Chief Putney.
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch repeated her plea for calm during the protests. She called for “those responsible for bringing violence to these demonstrations to stop.” She added, “you’re drowning out the voices of commitment and change and ushering in more tragedy and grief in our communities.”
Chief Putney also said in the news conference, “The big thing we are doing differently is we have several hundred additional assets to protect the structures, the businesses, and our personnel. And we’(re) gonna be a lot more proactive in going after the criminal behavior.”
Mayor Roberts said, “We have additional resources on the ground and they are working on a new strategic response to ensure safety. Every situation is volatile and we will do as much as we can to ensure that safety. She continued, “It is my sincere hope, I reach out to the community. I ask for a continued conversation. All those leaders who reached out to me personally, you’re amazing and the message you are carrying about non-violence and I have faith that we will continue to progress.”