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Scott Family Files Suit Against City, Officer Involved In Fatal Shooting

FILE: Rakeyia Scott addressed reporters at the north Charlotte apartment complex where her husband was shot in September 2016.
Nick de la Canal
FILE: Rakeyia Scott addressed reporters at the north Charlotte apartment complex where her husband was shot in September 2016.

The widow of Keith Scott has filed a lawsuit against the city and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer involved in the 2016 shooting that set off a string of protests and riots.

The lawsuit, filed by Rakeyia Scott on behalf of Keith Scott’s estate, claims the father of seven was wrongfully killed by Officer Brentley Vinson and seeks monetary damages of no less than $60,000. Vinson is being sued in his official capacity as an officer and as a citizen for “gross negligence” and the assault, battery and wrongful death of Scott.

The Scott family lawyer, Justin Bamberg, said CMPD “had no business messing with Keith in the first place.”

“He definitely did not deserve to be shot and killed, so here we are,” Bamberg said.

Bamberg told WFAE the Scott family is still coping with the loss. 

“They’re still taking things day by day,” Bamberg said. “Whenever these things occur, everybody gets to move on. The family still has to deal with losing someone they loved.

“Now, we just wait for the litigation process to get rolling.”

Scott was fatally shot at a University City apartment complex in September 2016 by Vinson, also a black man. Vinson and other officers said they saw Scott in a car smoking marijuana. The officers ordered Scott out of the vehicle and said he exited the car with a loaded gun. Officers said Scott did not comply with multiple commands to put the gun down and Vinson said he feared for his life when he shot Scott.

Vinson was cleared of wrongdoing by the district attorney and Police Chief Kerr Putney.

Scott’s family was adamant that he did not threaten officers with his gun, and took their case to the Citizen’s Review Board. After three days of closed-door testimony, the board was deadlocked 4-4 on whether officials were right to have exonerated Vinson.

The lawsuit goes into detail the moments before police confronted Scott in the parking lot of the apartment complex. It questions the police’s tactics and whether the officers were justified in leaving their pursuit of one suspect to attempt to arrest Scott. The lawsuit said the officers could have used more de-escalation techniques to resolve the situation.

After the shooting, the City Council hired the Washington D.C. based Police Foundation to review CMPD’s actions. But the city did not ask the foundation to review the police department’s training and actions immediately before the confrontation. Instead, the foundation was hired to review the department’s response to protests and riots after the shooting.

“The filing of the lawsuit is not unexpected,” said city attorney Bob Hagemann. “We will respond through the judicial process.”

Jessa O’Connor was an assistant digital news editor and Sunday reporter for WFAE.