Updated Sunday, Sept. 25, 12:32 p.m. EDT: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has released dashcam and body-cam footage that appears to contradict eyewitness Taheshia Williams’ statement that Keith Lamont Scott’s hands were up when he was shot by a CMPD officer—though Scott is not waving a gun or posing "an imminent deadly threat to the officers," as CMPD claimed. He is backing away from his vehicle, as Williams claimed in her account.
There also appears to be a black police officer on the scene. It is unclear whether that officer is Brentley Vinson, the officer who has been identified as the shooter. None of the footage released shows officers administering medical aid to Scott, although police officers do handcuff him while he is unmoving, face forward, on the ground. None of the footage shows which officer shot Scott. Neither a book nor a gun can be seen in the partial video footage released by the CMPD.
Williams' account aligns with cellphone footage taken by Rakeyia Scott, Keith Scott's wife, on the scene. Rakeyia Scott can be heard running, yelling at police that her husband does not have a gun, and saying not to shoot him. While she is still some distance away, a police officer fires four shots, and Keith Scott goes down. Rakeyia Scott can then be heard running closer to the scene, screaming, "Did you shoot him?! He better not be dead. He better not be f—king dead!"
Despite claims by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., Police Department that Keith Lamont Scott, 43, was armed with a gun when black Police Officer Brentley Vinson shot him to death, eyewitness Taheshia Williams maintains that Scott was armed with nothing but a book and that a white police officer is responsible for killing Scott.
Al-Jazeera's Alan Fisher reported live from the scene, where Williams said this:
He got out the car with his hands up because the police told him to get out the car. He got out the car. The book fell off his lap, the book he was reading. He got out the car and then he walked around his car to the back of his car. When he walked back there, when his wife was running down saying, 'No, stop, don't do that,' by the time she got right here to where his car was, they had shot that man four times.
Al-Jazeera appears to have not included the rest of Williams' statement, but a video of the full interview was posted on YouTube.
"I'm telling you what I believe, that it's a cover-up," Williams said. "They made a mistake and they're doing their best to cover up that mistake."
As previously reported by The Root, police said that they were searching for someone who had outstanding warrants when they saw Scott, with what they believed to be a gun, leave a vehicle. They claim that Scott then returned to his vehicle and that when they approached him, he not only didn't follow commands but “posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers,” which caused Vinson to open fire.
Williams says that couldn't be further from the truth: "It was not a black officer that killed him; it was a white officer that killed him. He was bald-headed. The black officer came on the scene 15, maybe 10 or 15 minutes later. And he was the one doing CPR on him … and I'm pretty sure by that time, the man was already gone. He didn't die at [Carolinas Medical Center] at 4 [p.m.]; he died out here at 2:30 [p.m.].
"I actually saw the shooting," Williams continued. "I saw that man die. I saw him take his last breath. I saw him move and then there was nothing; he didn't move no more after that."
When reporters asked Williams again did Scott have a gun, she insisted that he did not.
"He got out of that car with a book," she said. "I saw the book … I can't tell you the name of the book, but it had a black cover."
Williams said she was even close enough to hear Scott's last words.
"He said [with his hands up], 'What is the problem? What did I do? What's wrong?’”
"While he's saying that," Williams continued, "he's walking to the back of his truck and he's asking them, 'What's the problem?' He was stepping over the book and everything, because it had fell off his lap. He said, 'What did I do? What's the problem?' The police muffled something that I couldn't hear and they shot that man four times."
Despite a widespread media blackout of the rest of Williams' statement, she also went live on Facebook because she said the truth needs to be told.
"He didn't get out the car with a gun, then get back in the car," Williams said. "He would have been dead the first time."
Witnesses on the scene voiced their fear that police would retaliate against Williams for telling the truth. Someone off camera said that Williams is his friend and that he couldn't make her not tell the truth even if he wanted to do so.
"We gon' stand on this ground and we gon' fight back," Williams said.