CHARLOTTE – The wife of a man fatally shot by police recorded cellphone video of the encounter that includes her pleading with officers not to shoot and begging her husband to get out of his truck.
The video footage was the first glimpse of what happened before and after a shooting that has inflamed this city and prompted intense, sometimes violent protests over the past three days. The recording does not include a view of the shooting itself, which occurred Tuesday afternoon as Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old black man, was sitting in his parked vehicle outside his apartment.
It also does not answer whether Scott had a gun, as police have said. The family, protesters and civic leaders have been demanding that police release department video of the shooting, which the police have not done. (Transcript)
NBC News first published the cellphone video Friday afternoon, and attorneys for the family released it to The Washington Post and other media outlets. It shows an officer aiming a gun at an unseen Scott while police shout at him to drop his gun. Rakeyia Scott can be heard yelling to the officers that her husband was unarmed.
"Don't shoot him," she says. "Don't shoot him. He has no weapon. He has no weapon. Don't shoot him."
She then urges her husband to come out of the car and repeatedly says, "Don't you do it," until gunshots are heard. At this point, the camera is facing the ground, and she becomes increasingly upset, shouting profanities as she hurries closer to the scene.
"Did you shoot him? He better not (expletive) be dead," she yells while moving along the tree-lined street.
When she gets nearer to the scene, at least four officers are seen gathered around someone down on the street. Two of the officers were kneeling over him.
"He better live," she said. "I swear he better live. Yep. He better live. He better (expletive) live."
Police have said they have no immediate plans to release two recordings of the shooting, one captured by a police dashboard camera and another by a body camera worn by an officer at the scene, according to attorneys for the family.
The black plainclothes officer who shot Scott – Brentley Vinson, who was placed on paid administrative leave – was not wearing a recording device, police said.
Authorities have said officers encountered Scott because they were searching for another man – a suspect with an outstanding warrant. According to police, officers saw Scott get out of a car with a handgun and get back into it, and they ordered him to get out and drop the weapon. Police say he posed a deadly threat and refused to drop the gun.
The unreleased department video of the encounter has become a focal point for demonstrators here, who have taken to the city's streets and called for footage to be released. Scott's relatives, including his wife, watched the police videos on Thursday, according to their attorneys, and came away with "more questions than answers."
The footage of an anguished wife of 20 years pleading for her husband's life came as officials praised Thursday's protests for being largely peaceful and calm. After Scott's death Tuesday, Charlotte saw chaos and violence on its streets for two nights as unrest roiled the city, just the latest in a long list of places rocked by protests over policing.
Authorities announced on Friday the arrest of a man in the fatal shooting of a demonstrator during a clash between protesters and police and said a curfew would continue through the weekend.
While a curfew was announced from midnight to 6 a.m., authorities did not enforce it in the early hours of Friday, even as Charlotte remains under a state of emergency and patrolled by National Guard troops. Protesters marching through the streets chanted "What curfew?" and kept going until nearly 2 a.m. Friday in defiance the curfew.
Business leaders and others have been unsettled by protests and the shutdown of one of the South's main commercial hubs. But police also fear that sweeping crackdowns could add fuel to the tensions.
The Guard and state troopers will remain in Charlotte through Sunday, when the Carolina Panthers are set to host the Minnesota Vikings for a game in the city that afternoon. Police say they have "adequate resources" to secure the city during the event.
Other officials weighed in Friday about whether the video should be released, even as footage from Scott's wife circulated widely on social media and cable news, making the clip the most widely seen record of what unfolded.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton chimed in on Twitter, saying that Charlotte officials should release the police videos "without delay." Clinton plans to visit Charlotte on Sunday, according to a campaign aide. Donald Trump, her Republican opponent, bemoaned the unrest in Charlotte and said he felt drugs were a "very, very big factor" in the violence.
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said Friday that she believes the video should be released but said "the question is the timing." Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said it would be "improper" for him to speak on whether the video should be released while the investigation is ongoing. Attorney General Roy Cooper (D), McCrory's opponent in the upcoming gubernatorial election, called Friday for releasing the police videos as well, saying that transparency "breaks down barriers and brings progress."
Kerr Putney, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief, said that police video footage of the encounter did not give "absolute definitive visual evidence that would confirm that a person is pointing a gun," but he said that the footage and other evidence "supports what we've heard" about what happened.
Putney later told CNN that the video was not from an angle that would show a gun in Scott's hand, but he said witnesses saw a gun and that one was found nearby. Roberts also said the videos were "inconclusive" and that the footage released Friday by Scott's family did not show whether he had something in his hand.
Scott's relatives, who asked authorities to show them video of the shooting, watched it on Thursday, attorneys for the family said. In a statement, one of the family's attorneys, Justin Bamberg, said the videos show Scott calmly leaving his car when asked to do so by police and not raising his hands or acting aggressively.
Bamberg also said the videos do not show whether Scott has anything in his hands, which he said were at his side when he was shot, the footage showed. Scott's family has called on police to release the videos "as a matter of the greater good and transparency" and called on people to protest peacefully.
Scott is one of at least 707 people shot and killed by police so far this year and the fourth person shot and killed by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer, according to a Washington Post database tracking such deaths.
His death came on the heels of a fatal police shooting in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and another in Columbus, Ohio, that killed a 13-year-old last week. On Thursday, Officer Betty Shelby, who shot and killed 40-year-old Terence Crutcher in Tulsa last week, was charged with first-degree manslaughter.