The Key Thing about the Latest Police Killing in Charlotte, NC is that It Was Totally Gratuitous
Now that the Charlotte, NC Police Department has reluctantly released the body cam and squad-car videos in its possession of the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott, which make it clear that nobody knew whether or not Scott even had a gun in his SUV with him, and that he apparently didn't have one in hand when he exited his vehicle, and did not appear to be threatening anyone, one thing is abundantly clear: Whether he had a gun or not, there was absolutely no reason for police to kill him.
Scott's only "crime" -- a common one for frightened or confused people when suddenly confronted, initially in this case by armed plainclothes officers who may not even have identified themselves as policeman, and later by a bunch of shouting, angry armed cops with weapons aimed at him -- was to stay put in his seat with the doors locked when ordered to exit the vehicle.
Let's think about this scene for a moment. Police supposedly got involved in this tragic situation in the first place because Scott pulled up next to a car containing two plainclothes police officers allegedly about to serve a warrant on another man, and proceeded to roll what they thought was a marijuana "joint." Those officers reportedly claimed that they also saw him holding a gun. (How do you roll a joint while holding a gun? A skilled toker may be able to to a one-handed roll, but you still have to us the other hand to put the weed on the paper. For that matter how did they know it was weed and not tobacco?)
The cops drove off and left Scott, reportedly because they didn't consider that he posed an urgent threat!and then donned bullet-proof vests and called for backup before returning to the scene. According to Scott's family, far from posing a threat to police and the community, Scott was at the time doing what he did every school day: waiting peacefully in his car for a young son to return from school on the bus. According to his family, Scott owned no gun and was reading a book, as was his habit.
But let's assume the worst. Let's assume for the sake of argument that for one reason or other, Scott actually was sitting in his SUV fondling a joint and a pistol, as police claim. First of all, in North Carolina, courtesy of that state's right-wing legislature which has made open carrying of sidearms legal, that gun would be perfectly okay. Except that Scott is black, and as far as police are concerned, the state's law about its being legal to carry a weapon in public on one's person doesn't apply to black people. (For blacks in North Carolina, as in other states, open carry law or not, having a gun on you, even licensed and holstered, is a capital offense justifying whatever actions police might take, including summarily executing you.)