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Media Attorney: CMPD Has 2 More Hours of Shooting-Related Video

A CMPD officer (left) points a gun toward Keith Scott  just before the Charlotte man was shot to death.
CMPD
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CMPD hasn't released all the body and dash cam video tied to the shooting of Keith Scott.  But we have a better idea of how much exists - another 2 hours and 2 minutes. WFAE's David Boraks reports in this segment with All Things Considered host Mark Rumsey.

Mark: David, where does this new information come from?

David: A group of news organizations, including WFAE, newspapers and TV stations made a formal request on Monday for the additional video to Police Chief Kerr Putney and Interim City Manager Ron Kimble.  

It came in a letter, and asked for any additional body or dash cam video not yet released. News outlets also asked for any video CMPD has from public or private security cameras , such as any from Scott’s apartment complex off Old Concord Road. And we asked for the detailed police incident report. Up to now, all we’ve gotten is a summary.

We need to say that most of the new information comes from our lawyer Jonathan Buchan of law firm Essex Richards, who wrote the letter Monday. He talked this morning with CMPD’s lawyer Judy Emken, and shared the information with us.

We have reached out to CMPD directly, but have yet to hear back.

By the way, we need to note that Buchan is also chair of WFAE’s board.

Mark: So, no new video. But we got some new information, including a description of what we don’t have. 

David: That’s right. So far we’ve gotten only about 3 minutes and 20 seconds of video from one body cam and one dashboard camera (combined). Police said today they’re both from the same officer.  

The 1 minute and 8 second body cam video is part of a longer 16-minute video. CMPD says the rest just shows police and medical personnel treating Keith Scott.

According to Buchan, CMPD’s lawyer said police didn't release it - and didn't show it to the family - because it shows Scott as he lay dying.

The dash cam video is 1 hour and 50 minutes long, and so far we've seen only about two minutes. Police say there's nothing in it - just officers milling around.

Also according to Buchan, CMPD’s lawyer said a total of 52 officers responded to the scene. And they all had body and dash cameras. But again, police say those aren’t relevant to the shooting. They show only officers driving to the scene, and the cameras were turned off when they arrived.

We’re told that's it - there's no other video besides what they've released and what they described.

Police are sticking to their argument that body and dash cam videos aren't public records. They say they're exempt from release because they fall within the definition of "reports of criminal investigations." But they also say the rest of the video isn’t relevant to the shooting. 

WFAE and other news organizations argue the videos are public records.

Mark: What about other video, such as from surveillance cameras?

David: So the letter to CMPD asks for any video footage that authorities have received from security cameras operated by the city or its agencies, or from private sources - such as the apartment complex.

Again, according to our lawyer, CMPD says it's not aware of any, and they have not collected any.  

Mark: So why do news outlets want the rest of the video?

David:  The main reason is to answer a major question about this shooting: Did Keith Scott have a gun in his hand when he was shot by officer Brentley Vinson? Police say he did. And they’ve released photos of a holster and a handgun they say they recovered at the scene.

But no gun can be seen in the video clips police have released so far, or in the video taken by Scott's widow, Rakeyia Scott.

In the videos, officers can be heard shouting "Drop the gun."  Police chief Kerr Putney has said nothing in the videos shows conclusively that Scott was holding a gun.

We can take Putney’s word for that, or we can push for the videos to be released – so people beside the chief can review it. That’s what we’re doing.

It might show a gun right there beside Scott, or it might not. It might show people talking about a gun.

Mark: What’s in the incident report we got today?

David: Not much. It’s a two page form, and has no new information. In fact, it has less information than we got Saturday, when police put out a new summary of the incident.

Usually at the bottom of a police report, there’s an extended narrative – anything from a paragraph to a few pages. This one has one line: “At 1553 hours, at 9325 Old Concord Road, the victim was killed in an officer involved shooting.”

That’s it. I’ve seen longer narratives on police reports of shopliftings. 

Mark: So what happens now?

David: Since police are claiming the videos aren't public records, news organizations have to decide if a lawsuit makes sense.  If so, that would throw the dispute into courts.  

And by the way, that's where all disputes like this will wind up starting this Saturday, October 1st. North Carolina's new police camera law says police don't have to release body and dash cam videos without a court order.