The Charlotte police officer who fatally shot a black man following a brief but tense standoff Sept. 20 won't be charged in the case, District Attorney Andrew Murray announced Wednesday.
Officer Brent Vinson, who is also black, has been on administrative leave since shooting Keith Lamont Scott, 43, in a parking lot while the husband and father waited for his child's school bus.
"It is my opinion that Officer Vinson acted lawfully when he shot Mr. Scott," Murray said. "His use of deadly force was lawful."
The incident set off fierce protests that resulted in scores of arrests. After the shooting, Police Chief Kerr Putney said Scott was armed and that a gun was found at the scene. Scott's wife, Rakeyia, recorded some of the confrontation on her cellphone and said Scott was not armed.
Murray, during a lengthy presentation Wednesday, showed video of Scott entering a convenience store shortly before the shooting. In the video, a bulge in Scott's lower right pant leg "is consistent with the holster and gun later described by officers and found at the scene," Murray said.
A short time later, Murray said officers were on an unrelated call when they saw Scott, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle crash in October 2015, parked in his SUV at an apartment complex. They ordered him to exit his vehicle after seeing him brandish a handgun, Murray said.
Murray said the videos show that officers told Scott to drop his gun at least 10 times.
"The videos also show that Mr. Scott did not comply with those commands," Murray said.
He said Vinson fired four times, hitting Scott three times. Murray said Scott's DNA was found on the gun recovered at the scene.
Murray said he discussed his findings with several "career" prosecutors who all agreed with his decision. He said he revealed his decision to Scott's family before announcing it publicly.
The family issued a statement saying they were "profoundly disappointed" with Murray's decision — but thanked the prosecutor for his detailed explanation.
Lawyers for Scott's family said they will continue to investigate the case and could file a civil suit. Lawyer Justin Bamberg said it was a "bittersweet" day and the confrontation should never have taken place.
"We still have real questions about the decisions that were made that day, about how they confronted Keith," lawyer Chuck Monnett said.
Some video from the scene has been released. In September, Putney acknowledged there was "no definitive, visual evidence" from those videos that Scott had a gun in his hand. "You see something in the hand and that he pointed it at an officer," Putney said. The department has said officers perceived Scott's movements as posing an imminent threat.
The State Bureau of Investigation took over the investigation, and Mayor Jennifer Roberts said the Department of Justice was monitoring the probe.
After Murray announced his decision, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department tweeted: "@CMPD appreciates work by State Bureau of Investigation & District Attorney. We're committed to continuing to build trust with community."