Not the Easy Answer in Charlotte

The country now knows about the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott by a police officer in Charlotte, NC.  This past Saturday, the police released the video of the shooting to the public, which purports to show the victim holding a gun.  Since Scott was killed, some of the public has decided that the actions of the police were racially motivated, as Scott was African-American.  (Scott was shot by an African-American police officer.)  However, I believe that if the public is to see this as discrimination, it is a case of TBI-related discrimination.

In the cell phone video filmed by Scott’s wife, she pleads with the police, saying that Scott had a traumatic brain injury.  In fact, Scott did fall from a motorcycle in October 2015, which would have more likely given him a brain injury, most likely severe.  Brain damage often interferes with one’s response time, which may explain why Scott was slow to exit the truck.  More so, a brain injury can interfere with cognition and understanding of the long-term consequences of one’s actions.  (This behavior is often intensified by fatigue, which is often the most severe in the late afternoon.  The incident occurred at 4PM.)  Based on those facts, Scott may not have understood the necessity of raising his hands.  Also, if Scott did have a gun, he would be more likely to use it.  (The videos of Scott’s death do not show that Scott had a gun; however, they also do not show that he did not have a gun.)

In Scott’s wife’s cell phone video, one can hear her pleading to the police, telling them that her husband had a TBI and he had just taken his medication.  However, she stops at that statement, not explaining how or when that TBI occurred or the severity of it, so, perhaps, the police did not take notice.   To fully understand the situation, Scott must be considered a man with a brain injury, who had just taken his medication, and who was confronted by an unexpected and stressful situation most likely with the excessive fatigue that occurs at the end of a day.

I am definitely not condoning the police officer’s actions.  However, in a sense, I am not saying that, in their view, it was unprovoked.  More than punishing the officer who shot the gun that killed Scott and more than claiming the shooting was a racial issue, I believe the public and the police force should factor in Scott’s medical history.  The police need specific training on how to handle interactions with those who have brain injuries and the public needs to be educated of the effects of brain injury, so that they do not jump to erroneous conclusions.

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