WASHINGTON (AFP) - Charlotte police have released footage of the shooting death of a black man during an encounter with officers in the state of North Carolina, after days of protests demanding the videos be made public.
The Tuesday shooting of Keith Lamont Scott has caused several nights of unrest in the southern US city where various residents have called for the police to hand over the footage.
The videos were released to a number of US media and posted online. The first shows Scott getting out of a vehicle and walking backwards as police fire four rounds at him, but it is unclear whether he has a gun in hand. A second clip reveals Scott on the ground in the moments after he was shot as officers surround him.
Police had previously refused to release the dash-cam and body-cam footage, which they said showed that the 43-year-old African American had posed a threat to officers.
But Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney change his tune Saturday, telling reporters that people "want to see the facts, objective facts. And that's what we're presenting."
"People can interpret anything they want based on one piece of evidence, and I can tell you, I suspect they will, based on the video footage. But what I say is, you have to put all pieces together," he said.
Scott's family lawyer Justin Bamberg told a news conference that despite the new videos, it was still impossible to "clearly identify what, if anything, is in his hand, and that has not changed." Scott was shot and killed at a Charlotte apartment complex during an encounter with police searching for another person wanted for arrest.
Police say he had a handgun. His family says he was holding a book.
Putney reemphasised Saturday that Scott had a handgun and added that he was also in possession of marijuana.
When officers "see the weapon, and they see the marijuana, they say, 'oh-oh, this is a safety issue for us and the public,'" Putney said.
Police also released a photo of a handgun they say Scott had on him as well as an ankle holster and a marijuana blunt.
During his press conference earlier in the day, Putney also said that DNA evidence would be released.
He told reporters that he had made the call to release the footage and media only after getting confirmation "that when I release what I'm going to release, there is no adverse impact on the State Bureau of Investigation's investigation. And I have that assurance now."
Governor Pat McCrory said in a statement Saturday that "as governor of North Carolina, I concur with the Charlotte police chief's decision to release the tapes. I have been assured by the State Bureau of Investigation that the release will have no material impact on the independent investigation."
Following several nights of violence-marred protests, North Carolina's governor had already declared a state of emergency in the city.
Scott's family has previously released two minutes of smartphone footage filmed by his wife, which does not show the shooting itself and does not conclusively answer the question of whether he was armed.
"Our goal has from the beginning been to get the absolute unfiltered truth, and the only way to get that is for the police to release the videos that were released today. Unfortunately, we are left with far more questions than we have answers," Ray Dotch, the brother of Scott's wife, told a press conference.
"We should not have to humanize him for him to be treated fairly. He was an American citizen who deserved better. That is our position. And it should be yours." Scott's death is only the latest in a string of police-involved killings of black men that have fueled outrage across America.