CHARLOTTE — Keith Lamont Scott was well-known in the neighborhood, a fixture in the after-school hours who sat in his truck, passing time reading while waiting for his son to step off the bus, according to local residents.
The first time Justin Petty noticed the man sitting in his truck with a book, the sight struck him as odd, but he soon realized Scott’s reading was a daily habit.
Scott, the 43-year-old father of seven who was recently injured in a motorcycle accident, was waiting each day for his son to be dropped off from school.
The last time Petty saw Scott, he lay on the pavement, convulsing in his last moments of life.
Four shots had rung out in the neighborhood from the lot just below Petty’s second-floor apartment, loud enough that they sounded as if they had been fired in the hallway.
Outside, Petty’s truck was blocked in by an unmarked minivan and an older Ford Explorer, said Petty and his roommate Kendall Reynolds, both students at nearby University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Reynolds had seen the Explorer before, and believed police were trying with little success to serve a warrant.
“He was sitting in his truck like he does all the time. He’s always waiting on his kid,” said Frederick Coleman, who said he’s lived in the complex for about a year and had become friendly with Scott. “This man was no thug. He lives right here. Since when can you not sit where you live and wait for your child? ”
The neighbors' accounts of the tragic turn of events Tuesday afternoon is at odds with the police version. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney flatly rejected claims that Scott was holding a book, not a gun. Putney saids detectives recorded the firearm at the scene but found no book.
“It’s time to change the narrative, because I can tell you from the facts that the story’s a little bit different as to how it’s been portrayed so far, especially through social media,” Putney told reporters Wednesday.
Like many local residents, Coleman is, in turn, skeptical of the police account of events. He said he watched as one officer directed another to “get the gun.”
Scott was rolled over and stripped to his boxers, he said, but police did not perform life-saving measures.
On Wednesday afternoon, some residents of the apartment complex revisited the scene of the shooting, where white carnations now lay amid the orange spray paint markings of the police investigators.
People from outside the complex were also drawn to the scene, including Calvin Bennett of Columbia, S.C.
“You have a child coming off the bus and goes to meet daddy, but doesn’t know what to do because daddy’s dead,” Bennett said. “Think about that image for a minute. America should be outraged.”
“We get killed in church. We get killed when we comply. We get killed when we hold our hands up. We get killed when we wait for our children. What more can we do?” said Bennett, his tone sure and his words direct.
Asked if he is an activist, Bennett’s tone softened. He is not. He keeps up with the shootings of black people and has gotten an education he wish he did not need.
“The black community has this conversation every day,” he said, quietly. “We have this same conversation over and over and over.”
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