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Questions remain after Charlotte police release videos of shooting

The attorney representing the family of Keith Scott says videos released Saturday show he was not acting aggressively when police fatally shot him last week in Charlotte, North Carolina. Police Chief Kerr Putney said he released the videos in the interest of transparency. Carla Shedd, an assistant professor of sociology and African-American studies at Columbia University, joins Hari Sreenivasan.

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    Joining me now for some perspective on the police-involved shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte is Carla Shedd, an assistant professor of sociology and African-American studies at Columbia University. She is also the author of "Unequal City: Race, Schools, and Perceptions of Injustice".

    You know, last night, a lot of people were waiting for some clarity saying, "OK, well, the police department would not have said that they will release these things unless the video is on their side. But it wasn't conclusive.


    I know. We keep asking people to release tapes. But you know that there is something else going on. And this lack of transparency, I think it's probably making the public much more upset because he showed them a piece of footage, instead of showing them the full thing. So, there are ways in which the release just muddies the issue even further and I know it makes more people upset.


    What does it do to the fabric of the community when something like this happens and when there is essentially a heightened tension, especially around race?

  • SHEDD:

    Well, I've been studying what I call the carceral continuum, so it's the range of contacts that people had with the police from just being stopped and asked questions, to being stopped and searched to perhaps a deadly encounter with the police. And along that range, there are people who say, wow, my side of the story wasn't taken or the police record would not even reveal what happened from my standpoint, we were only getting their standpoint.


    Are there any things that are working in framing how a community approaches police and getting results? I mean, because we saw very different outcomes in Tulsa, Oklahoma, than we did in North Carolina.

  • SHEDD:

    Right. I think, you know, measures of accountability, the difference with Tulsa was that they released that footage very early that people felt like they had a sense of, you know, here is more data about what was going on. If we have people who actually have connections to police officers, where they know them from the community, so it comes to having some stronger connections amongst the people and being seen as fully human and that one-to-one reach could, you know, scale up to a general perception of trust.

    But it's really hard to do that. And we have to work from both ends in changing in the only the culture of policing but the structure of inequality that would make it so that police are the first people that we call, and see, that I'm recognized fully as a person.


    With all of the video that's out there, does it make it more difficult for communities to engage in a conversation or does it force the police to the table and what does it do in that kind of larger context having these incredibly impassioned flare ups occur?

  • SHEDD:

    There are no definitive accounts. And I think having the video gives some solace to people in saying this should be an objective record and often it's not. But it means that we are really grasping for something to show that there might be a different side because people don't have great trust in what is the police record and what is the sort of side of that — of the officers.

    So, even with the advantage point of body cameras, this comes where you are seeing it from the police's vantage point. It's not from that other citizen's vantage point. And I think we can take that metaphor to mean, how do we get the record of the people? How do we understand their accounts and what they go through?


    All right. Carla Shedd from Columbia University — thanks so much.

  • SHEDD:

    Thank you for having me.

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