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N.C. NAACP, CBC demand justice after Charlotte shooting

Charlotte police officers patrol on bicycles as people peacefully protest the killing of Keith Scott by a law enforcement officer. AP Photo Charlotte police officers patrol on bicycles as people peacefully protest the killing of Keith Scott by a law enforcement officer. AP Photo

In the aftermath of the tragic Charlotte police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott last week, both the N.C. NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus have demanded an independent federal investigation.

Monday night (Sept. 26) in Charlotte, N.C. NAACP President Rev. William Barber said it was not clear that the shooting was justified, as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney insisted last week prior to releasing the edited police dash-cam and body-cam footage to the public Saturday (Sept. 24) under pressure.

Rev. Barber issued a list of demands, including the release of all police body-cam footage related to the Scott shooting that the CMPD may still have in its possession. He also called for an “accountability” and “heightened consequences” of the CMPD officers who took part in the incident on-scene who did not have their body-cameras activated. The officer who fatally shot Keith Scott reportedly did not have his body-cam operating.

The N.C. NAACP also demanded that federal standards be established for when police officers should be justified in using deadly force. Those standards should be utilized “…in additional training, guidelines for identifying and removing officers with a propensity to overreact, and a commitment from the U.S. Department of Justice, in collaboration with local prosecutors and the State Bureaus of Investigation, to aggressively pursue investigations, indictments, and prosecutions against law enforcement officers who harm or kill innocent civilians.”

Rev. Barber also called for “…the retrial of Randall Kerrick, the officer responsible for killing Jonathan Ferrell, another unarmed Black man shot in Charlotte just three years ago.” The N.C. NAACP president also called for the repeal of HB 972 “…which will, as of October 1, require a court order to release footage from police recordings, thus further enshrouding in secrecy a system already distrusted by the public that those officials claim to serve.”

The N.C. NAACP list of demands also included a moratorium on the death penalty and restoration of the Racial Justice Act; an end to racial profiling; empowering police civilian review boards; a “demilitarization” of police departments statewide; a public accounting of elected officials on key issues like voting rights, health care, public education, etc.; and the passage of meaningful criminal justice reform and “the end of racialized policing and police brutality.”

The Keith Scott police shooting footage showed plainclothes officers with “POLICE” vests on, repeatedly ordering Scott, 43, out of his vehicle at gunpoint after they claim to have witnessed him sitting in the front seat with a marijuana joint and a handgun.

Chief Putney claimed that evidence retrieved from the scene buttressed officers’ contention that Scott had a weapon, exited his car with it at his side, and walked backwards away from the police until one officer, Brentley Vinson, 26, fired four rounds, fatally hitting Scott.

Days of street protests followed, with the city imposing curfews and the governor sending in the National Guard to ensure against violence that marred the first two nights of demonstrations.

None of the police footage showed Scott with a gun in his hand, despite still pictures of a gun the Charlotte –Mecklenburg Police Dept. says was in his hand, and has his DNA on.

Scott’s family insists that he did not own a gun they knew of. Published reports this week claim Scott bought the handgun illegally.

In Washington, D.C., North Carolina members of the Congressional Black Caucus took front and center in demanding an end to police shootings of Black men.

Congresswoman Alma Adams demanded that the U.S. Department of Justice open a “pattern-or-practice” investigation into the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in the wake of two fatal police shootings in the past three years.

“People need to be receptive to, again, admitting that there’s a problem and then coming together and saying, you know, I know there’s a way we can fix it,” Rep. Adams told The Charlotte Observer. “You might not have the solution, but you may have a portion of what we need to do.”

Meanwhile, the Congressional Black Caucus, led by Congressman G. K. Butterfield marched to the US Justice Dept. last Thursday (Sept. 22) with a letter for U.S. Attorney Gen. Loretta Lynch requesting federal probes into the Charlotte, and Tulsa, Okla. fatal police shootings.

“The Congressional Black Caucus is outraged with the dozens of unlawful police shootings that are taking place all across America involving unarmed, innocent African American citizens,” CBC Chairman Butterfield told reporters.