As officials investigate the circumstances that led to Keith Lamont Scott's death, the city is struggling to contain the African American community's wrath. Violent protests over Scott's death have rocked the North Carolina city, and one man was fatally shot. The narrative pulled from police bodycam footage — that Scott was shot after refusing to drop his weapon, but there is no "definite visual evidence" that he pointed a gun at the cops — is being disputed by his family, who said that Scott was unarmed. While the police videos were shared with Scott's relatives, officials have refused to release them to the public.
But another video, one deeply personal and unsettling, has emerged. NBC News obtained and on Friday published the video taken by Scott's wife, Rakeyia Scott, that showed the moment leading up to her husband's death.
"Don't shoot him! He has no weapon — don't shoot him!" Scott's wife shouts at the police as she watches the confrontation. In the video, she tells the cops that Scott had just taken his medication, and urges her husband to exit the car before the police shoot him.
If the video is difficult to watch, then surely it was a nightmare for Rakeyia Scott to witness firsthand, let alone get it all on tape. Even after gunshots go off and Scott falls onto the ground, Rakeyia Scott continues filming, giving specific details of the incident — "we're over here at 94-53 Lexington Court, these are the police officers that shot my husband. And he'd better live," she says — as the realization of Scott's death dawns on her.
"I'm not going to come near you," she says in response to the officers' warning to stay away. "I'm going to record, though."
The video is a haunting echo of Diamond Reynolds' Facebook live-stream of her boyfriend Philando Castile's death in Minnesota from July. As Castile lay bleeding in the driver's seat with their daughter in the back, Reynolds calmly, almost robotically, narrates the events that led to the shooting: Castile was pulled over by the police for a broken taillight. He informed the cop that he was licensed to carry a handgun, but when reaching into his wallet for his ID, he was shot by the officer, who in the video seemed hysterical and panicked.
Reynolds' poise in the video — she continues to respond to the officer after Castile is shot: "You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir." — inexplicably became a point of contention for some people. How could she remain so calm as her boyfriend lay dying next to her? Some argued that it was in defense against further police violence, others argued that she was in shock. A trauma expert, Jim Hopper, likened it to a disassociative state.
"People are literally not feeling in their body what's going on," Hopper told The Washington Post. "That circuitry can basically shut down. This is the brain on horror."
Reynolds and Rakeyia Scott both witnessed firsthand their partners being gunned down by the police for no good reason, yet continued holding up the camera to record what was happening, as it was happening to them.
There's something to be said about the herculean strength it takes to do that — to put their grief, confusion, and anger on hold to document their truth; to show a side of the narrative that has gone untold for decades, of the authorities' systematically targeting, often fatally, black people; and to keep fighting for justice for their partners, their friends and loved ones, and their community.