CMPD Chief now says he would release shooting video, but is out of his hands

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney at a September 23, 2016 press conference. (Photo Credit: Livestream screen grab)

Funeral services are scheduled in Columbus, Ohio and Tulsa, Oklahoma this weekend for two of three black males killed by police officers in recent days. Thirteen-year-old Tyre King and 40-year-old Terrence Crutcher will both be laid to rest. FSRN’s Nell Abram has more.

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As mourners prepare, protests continued in Charlotte, North Carolina for a third night Thursday after a police officer killed Keith Lamont Scott.

A curfew was in place but not implemented; with streets largely peaceful amid a state of emergency in the city – though tear gas and rubber bullets were fired in at least one location. The curfew is expected to remain in place at least through the weekend.

One protester, Justin Carr, who was shot during demonstrations Wednesday night has died as a result of his injuries. Police have arrested a civilian in connection to the shooting.

The climate in Charlotte has been much more highly charged than in either of the other two cities. Tulsa officials quickly released video of the Crutcher shooting. But in Charlotte both dashboard and body-worn camera video has yet to be made public.

After steadfastly refusing to release the footage, and saying transparency “is in the eye of the beholder,” Police Chief Kerr Putney seemed to switch gears Friday, indicating that he would make the video public now — but the investigation has been handed off to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

“The reason I want to release it when I can give more supportive information is because if it’s proving our case, or proving our case should go in a different direction, the only way to do that is to establish probable cause.” Chief Putney said at a press conference. “And what I can tell you is the video evidence in that case didn’t get us to that standard solely.

“So now that more evidence has come in it would be a proper time,” the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief continued. “But right now what I can tell you is the State Bureau of Investigation has the lead and they have to play catch up.”

Keith Lamont Scott’s family viewed the video Thursday afternoon. In a statement, they described Mr. Scott as walking backward with his hands down – but out of view – when a police officer shot him. They also specifically asked officials to release the video.

Conflicting statements about what, if anything, was in Scott’s hands at the time persist, as do observations that North Carolina is an open carry state.

Some witnesses say he had a book, police claim Scott had a gun. At least one other witness reports that a white officer fired the fatal shot, not the black officer who police officials say is responsible for his death.

In all three cases, officers allegedly involved were placed on paid administrative leave during investigations. Thursday, the Tulsa County District Attorney filed felony manslaughter charges against Officer Betty Shelby, who shot Terrence Crutcher as he stood with his hand placed on his car.

Shelby turned herself in and has since been released on a $50 thousand dollar bond.

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