Law & the Courts

Charlotte DA Declines to Prosecute Officer Who Shot Keith Scott—and Exposes Another Anti-Cop Hoax

Another riot, another hoax. In 2014, buildings burned in Ferguson, Missouri, as “hands up, don’t shoot” rocketed around the nation to become one of the lies of the year. In 2016, buildings burned in Charlotte, North Carolina, as activists claimed that police gunned down an unarmed Keith Scott simply for reading a book.

Today Charlotte-Mecklenburg district attorney Andrew Murray not only announced that his office would not file charges against officer Brantley Venson for shooting Scott, he also offered comprehensive evidence to rebut the conspiracy theories around the case.

First, yes Scott was armed – with a stolen gun:

Murray said that Scott bought the gun – a Colt .380 semi-automatic that had been stolen in Gaston County – 18 days before the confrontation for the $100. One bullet was found in the chamber of the gun, the safety was off and Murray said Scott’s DNA was found on the grip and slide.

The person who sold the gun to Scott admitted to doing so when confronted by state and federal law enforcement, according to a prosecutor’s report on the shooting. “The seller said that Scott asked him to find him a weapon because he was having problems with his wife and her family, specifically his nephew,” the report said.

Second, he was brandishing his weapon:

Murray said that evidence in the case shows that Scott stepped out of his SUV with a gun in his hand and ignored at least 10 commands from the five officers on the scene to drop it.

Here’s a news flash, ignorant police critics. Holding a gun in your hand and ignoring police commands to drop the weapon is not “open carry.” Nor are police required to wait until a suspect actually points the weapon at them to open fire. Imposing such a requirement would essentially grant suspects the first free shot at the police.

Third, there was no book:

Murray said that speculation in the community that Scott was unarmed – initial reports from a family member on Facebook said he was holding a book – were untrue.

“A reading book was not found in the front or back seats of Mr. Scott’s SUV,” Murray said.

Finally, it turns out that alleged “eye witnesses” who claimed Scott was unarmed actually lied. They hadn’t seen the shooting at all:

People who claimed on social media that they had seen the shooting and Scott was unarmed were later found to be in error – three people who’d made the claim told State Bureau of Investigation agents in interviews that they hadn’t actually seen the shooting.

Activists are fond of saying that cops have to “build trust” with with the communities they police, but this obligation runs both ways. Members of the community shouldn’t lie about cops.

How many more costly hoaxes will we have to endure before the mainstream media starts treating activists’ claims with the skepticism they deserve? No one doubts that there are bad cops who do bad things, but we almost always only know that later – after investigators have had an opportunity to do their work. There is a reason why we don’t leave justice to the streets.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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