CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte’s Citizens Review Board sided with Keith Scott’s family Tuesday, voting 8-2 that there was "substantial evidence of error" in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's determination that the deadly officer-involved shooting was justified.
Julian Wright, an attorney representing the Citizens Review Board for the city of Charlotte, announced that the panel voted 8-2 to take another look at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's conclusion in the shooting death of Scott.
Wright said the board will gather more information at the evidentiary hearing scheduled for Aug. 8, including testimony from officers and other witnesses. Should the board conclude that there was an error, Wright said, the panel would write a recommendation to CMPD Chief Kerr Putney saying "we believe that your determination that the shooting was justified is not correct and we recommend that you change it."
Wright said the board could also determine that the shooting was justified. He didn't elaborate on what details led the board to its vote.
The decision came after presentations from the police department and attorneys for the Scott family at a hearing that lasted nearly five hours.
Scott was killed on Sept. 20, leading to two days of unrest that ended with one death, dozens of arrests and millions of dollars of damage.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's internal investigation revealed that Officer Brentley Vinson committed no wrongdoing when he shot and killed Scott last fall, but Scott's family appealed to the Citizen’s Review Board, which is in charge of investigating officer misconduct.
The department released video of the altercation, and Vinson said he observed Scott with marijuana and a handgun.
Scott's wife had told reporters and investigators her husband had no gun. But in August, the couple had argued on text messages about the weapon.
According to the report, Vinson said he felt he needed to fire his weapon. He was eventually cleared in the department's internal investigation, which was the decision the Scott family was fighting Tuesday.
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The CRB will hear from witnesses, observe evidence and will provide a recommendation to the city manager at an Aug. 8 hearing.
If that goes further, the CRB could recommend to the city manager that the officer could be disciplined. The CRB could also make other recommendations.
That's never happened before. There have been more than 90 cases brought to the CRB since its launch in 1997.
In every case the, CRB has sided with CMPD.
The attorney for the CRB said it will only take a majority vote for that recommendation to happen.
“This next hearing will look a lot like a trial,” Wright said. “The difference being, if all 11 members show up, you're going to have 11 people serving as judge and jury at the same time.”
The city of Charlotte released a statement on the decision.
"The work of the Citizens Review Board is crucial in ensuring transparency, fairness and accountability,” city officials said in the release. "The city of Charlotte respects today's decision by the Citizens Review Board and thanks the members of the board for their service."
The attorney for Scott’s family said they were pleased with Tuesday’s decision.
“We're very thankful to have had the opportunity to present our side of things to the Citizens Review Board,” attorney Justin Bamberg said. “This is just one step in the process. We're looking forward to the August hearing."
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