By Keith Mansur
Oregon Cannabis Connection
November 30, 2016 — The Mecklenburg County District Attorney held a news conference November 30th to announce the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina last September was justified. They explained the marijuana and a gun were the impetus for the police to approach Scott as he sat in his vehicle. The incident was recorded by Scott’s wife at the time of the shooting who denied he had a gun at the time and pleaded with police to not shoot him and also begged her husband to cooperate with police.
District Attorney R. Andrew Murray held a press conference to announce their findings. He explained the event which led the police to shoot Scott, and explained that the combination of a gun and marijuana created a situation that apparently compelled police to stop their surveillance of a completely unrelated case and focus on Scott. Scott had inadvertently parked directly next to the surveillance van that was occupied by two under cover officers, one of them the officer who would ultimately shoot Scott, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Brentley Vinson.
After casually noticing Scott near their surveillance van the morning of September 20th, officer Vinson apparently witnessed Scott drive away, then return and park directly next to the van, which had blackened windows to conceal the officers. At that time, officer Vinson noticed
the marijuana, and later a gun.
“At that point, Mr. Scott opens his door. Leans to the side and empties a Cigarillo…and begins to put in marijuana from a pill bottle and roll it,” explained Murray during the news conference. “The pill bottle and marijuana blunt…was later recovered from the scene.”
The marijuana alone was not enough reason for officers to stop their surveillance operation Murray explained, and said Officer Vinson told investigators, “We’re not really worried about a little marijuana.”
“All that changed when officer Vinson saw Mr. Scott holding up a semi-automatic handgun as he sat in his vehicle,” explained Murray.
They also played the police radio exchange between officers and police dispatch. In the exchange police requested additional assistance, “because they had seen a man with drugs and a gun,” said Murray.
The gun was a Colt 380 and was recovered at the crime scene with a bullet in the chamber, safety off, and fully cocked, according to the police report. Scott’s DNA was also found on the weapon. Dash cam videos were released by police, as well, to show the police demanded he drop the weapon, and to show the period immediately following of the shooting.
D.A. Murray determined that an imminent threat existed and that officer Vinson acted lawfully. Though Scott never raised the gun towards any officers, he exited the vehicle at the demands of the police holding the weapon and apparently had a “blank stare” on his face and was acting oddly.
It was determined Scott was also on a number of prescription medications. Some of these prescriptions can cause him to be “zoned out” according to a statement to police by his wife.
Two nights of rioting occurred after the shooting, with a few nights of peaceful protests after that.
Everyone that uses cannabis should remember, guns and marijuana don’t mix. There are laws protecting our rights to own and posses a gun, and police may not care much about “a little marijuana”, but combine the two and a serious crime has apparently occurred in the minds of law enforcement.
Though Mr. Scott should have followed the commands of police in this instance, for his own safety, the reason they approached him in the first place had everything to do with the perception of marijuana as a dangerous “drug”, which is the perception we need to change.
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