Moments before a Charlotte, North Carolina, police officer shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, his wife was on the scene recording the events as they unfolded.
The video, published by the New York Times, offers no new significant evidence. It’s too far away from the scene to make out what Scott and police officers are doing, and the shooting happens out of frame. It also doesn’t answer the crucial question of whether Scott had a gun and brandished it against police, as officers claim.
But its release is the best we have for now, as police have refused to release the video they do have of the shooting. Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney said the officer who shot Scott did not have a body camera, but other officers did. And there’s dashboard camera footage, as well.
Putney said he won’t release videos as the investigation continues. In his defense, he cited a North Carolina law that bans police from releasing video from body cameras without a court order — but that law doesn’t take effect until October, meaning the police department does have the ability to release the videos want if it truly wants to.
Putney also acknowledged that the available video evidence does not prove that Scott threatened police with a gun: "The video does not give me absolute, definitive visual evidence that would confirm that a person [was] pointing a gun. I did not see that in the videos that I reviewed. What I can tell you, though, is when taken in the totality of all the other evidence, it supports what we've heard and the version of the truth that we gave about the circumstances that happened that led to the death of Mr. Scott."
Scott’s family, which has seen the video, said that the video should be released to the public.
In the video, Rakeyia Scott, Scott’s wife, is heard pleading with police to not shoot her husband. She repeatedly insists Scott did not have a gun — although police said they found and recovered a firearm from the scene. In the video, police tell Scott to put his hands up and, repeatedly, to "drop the gun" — as Scott’s wife insists he doesn’t have a weapon.
Scott’s wife also tells the officers that Scott has a "TBI" — a traumatic brain injury — and took medication for it. It’s not clear if the police officers could hear her warnings.
As Scott lies on the ground, his wife continues filming. "These are the police officers that shot my husband," she said, "and he better live." He did not.
For more on the Charlotte shooting and the protests that followed, read Vox’s explainer.