Keith Lamont Scott was shot in his left back, left abdomen and left wrist during his fatal encounter with Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, a private autopsy commissioned by his family shows.
“The cause of death is two, penetrating, indeterminate range gunshot wounds to the back and abdomen,” wrote two forensic pathologists who performed the autopsy Sept. 30 at the Newberry County (S.C.) Memorial Hospital morgue.
Based on the autopsy and video from the scene, the shot to his back was most likely the first to hit Scott, Charles Monnett, a lawyer for Scott’s family, told the Observer. The bullet penetrated his lungs and aorta, Monnett said.
The second shot, to Scott’s abdomen, struck his spinal cord and paralyzed him, Monnett said.
Scott, 43, was fatally shot by a police officer Sept. 20 in the parking lot of The Village at College Downs apartment complex on Old Concord Road in northeast Charlotte. His death sparked protests, some violent, in uptown Charlotte and elsewhere in the city. Protesters questioned why Scott was shot when he was backing away from police. Police said Scott refused orders to drop a gun and that the officer who shot Scott felt in danger of his life.
Scott’s wife, meanwhile, gave her first TV interview on Wednesday to “CBS This Morning” co-host Gayle King. A preview of the interview aired on “CBS Evening News,” with the interview to be featured on “CBS This Morning” on Thursday.
Rakeyia Scott told King that her husband was taking 11 medications because of injuries suffered in a wreck last year. He had traumatic brain injury and often didn’t talk.
She said her husband didn’t have a gun, countering what police have said. “I know he didn’t have it,” Scott told King. “Where that gun came from, I do not know. He was not a threat. You saw him backing up. Why didn’t you give him a command then?”
“And all we want is to know why? Just why,” Scott said. “Why did you have to take Keith that day. Why did you have to take him from us that day?”
“Was there a gun in his ankle holster? Was there a gun in his hand?” Monnett told The Washington Post. “It’s pretty clear that Keith never discharged a firearm, and I think it’s pretty clear from the video that he never pointed any firearm at an officer.”
Her husband was backing away from police when he was shot, Rakeyia Scott said in the CBS interview. “The only thing we want to know is why,” she said. “Why did you take him from us that day?”
Monnett said Scott’s family was forced to conduct the independent autopsy because the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s Office refused to release “even the most basic information about his wounds or cause of his death.”
The autopsy results leave the family with the same question they’ve had all along, Monnett said: “Was deadly force necessary?”
The Scott family authorized Wednesday’s release of the private autopsy because, “as they have maintained from the very beginning, they are simply seeking transparency,” Monnett said. “We will continue to pursue justice for this family.”
Several days after the shooting, Rakeyia Scott released a cellphone video that she recorded of her husband’s shooting. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department released body and dash camera videos after days of mounting public pressure.
Scott drew the attention of officers who were trying to serve an arrest warrant on an unrelated suspect at the apartments because they saw him rolling marijuana in his vehicle, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney has said.
Police were going to let it go and continue on their original mission until an officer spotted a weapon in the vehicle, Putney said.
“It was not lawful for him to possess a firearm,” Putney said. “There was a crime he committed, and the gun exacerbated the situation.”
Putney said he has found nothing to indicate that Officer Brentley Vinson, who shot Scott, acted inappropriately, given the totality of the circumstances, and he does not think his officers broke the law that day. They were reacting to what appeared to be an imminent threat, he said.
State Bureau of Investigation agents, at the request of Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray, are conducting an independent inquiry into the shooting.
Murray acted after Scott’s family requested the probe – under state law, he is required to ask the SBI to investigate after a request from the family of a person killed with a firearm by an on-duty officer.