Brentley Vinson, the North Carolina police officer identified as the killer of Keith Lamont Scott, couldn't have been solely responsible for his death, Scott's widow suggested in a CBS News interview which aired Thursday.
Rakeyia Scott, who sat down with "CBS This Morning" host Gayle King, witnessed the moments leading up to her husband's shooting by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers. She said Vinson, who is black, was too far away to have fired the fatal shots at her husband, who is also black.
"Officer Vinson, I don't believe [he] shot my husband," Rakeyia Scott said to King. "Because of the positioning when the shooting actually occurred... I did seem him, but he was at a distance. He's not a part of the interaction [with Keith]."
The race of the officer who shot Keith Scott on Sept. 20 emerged as a focal detail of the incident, even as police officials struggled to meet other demands for transparency from the public, including the release of body cam video. During the vice presidential debate between Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a discussion of implicit bias in policing included Pence's flimsy suggestion that race was not a factor in Scott's death because he and the officer are African-American.
Rakeyia Scott told CBS News race played a "100% role" in the death of her husband of 25 years. But she didn't go as far to claim police officials pinned the shooting on Vinson, instead of a white officer, perhaps in an attempt to quell the protests and civil unrest that happened anyway.
"I'm not sure what they have to gain," Scott's widow told King, who pressed her about why police would want to scapegoat another officer. "I'm just going by what I recall and believe that day," she added.
Police have said they were executing an arrest warrant for someone else when they happened on Keith Scott in the in the parking lot an apartment complex in northeast Charlotte. The officers who were on scene claimed to have seen the 43-year-old Scott exit and re-enter his vehicle with a firearm, prompting them to engage him. After the shooting, a handgun was recovered from the scene.
Rakeyia Scott, who came out of an apartment just as police were ordering her husband out of his parked truck, said she pleaded with officers not to shoot him. She also warned them that a traumatic brain injury he sustain in 2015 motorcycle accident impaired his ability to respond. She recorded video of her own pleas, in footage that includes the moment officers fired multiple shot at her husband.
"He had no gun," Rakeyia Scott said in the CBS News interview. "He was not a threat."
An independent autopsy ordered by the Scott family concluded that Keith Scott was wounded in the upper back, abdomen and his left hand. The "indeterminate range gunshot wounds to the back and abdomen" caused his death, according to an autopsy report.
Vinson, who joined the CMPD in 2014, has been placed on administrative leave while local and state officials conduct an investigation. However, the shooting was justified because "it was not for [Keith Scott] to possess a firearm," Chief Kerr Putney has said, according to the Charlotte Observer.
"All we want to know is why," Rakeyia Scott told CBS News. "Give us the real valid reason as to why my husband's life was taken that day before me."