One-on-one with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Chief Kerr Putney
CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46) - Thursday marked the first time Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney publicly spoke since the release of police tapes of the Keith Scott shooting.
He opened up to FOX 46 Charlotte about the pressure he felt to release the tapes.
Q: A lot has come out about Mr. Scott's criminal past in the days after the shooting. Did the officers know about that past when they approached him? Or was this, like you said, sortof a boom boom thing?
They did not know, as they approached him, about his past. And I'm gonna tell you...what's most frustrating to me is the character assassination as I see it, and I told my people I'm holding them accountable, we're not gonna do that. I don't believe in that, that is not how we operate. I do not like what I'm seeing about a narrative being painted to denigrate anybody's character...I know how that feels, it's been done to me. There have been threats all over the place, which is unfortunate. I don't want anybody to paint all the demonstrators with a broad brush, I don't want you painting this profession with a broad brush. - Chief Kerr Putney replied
Q: So after a little bit of pressure, you decided to release several minutes of the dash cam and body cam footage. Right now, why are you not releasing the rest of the tapes?
First of all, pressure is not the reason for when I released it. I released it because two days after the initial investigation, we were already at a point where it would not adversely impact our investigative process. So that would've been Thursday. Unfortunately, and fortunately, the family decided they wanted an independent investigation, therefore it would not have been prudent to release it at that point and interfere with their investigation. But what's amazing is two days later, on Saturday, they were at a point where the release would not hurt their investigation. That is the sequence of events, best practice is about seven days, and we did it four days after, so I think that's appropriate." - Chief Kerr Putney replied.
Q: When did you realize you guys needed the national guard, and do you wish they had been activated sooner?
I wish we hadn't activated them at all, given the need. But there was a need, and we saw that right starting at the 9 or 10 p.m. hour on Wednesday. We saw that our capacity was starting to get exceeded, sometime after 10:30 we made that call to get that status enacted so we could have more resources to extend our capacity." - Chief Kerr Putney replied.
Q: Looking back at the past week or so is there anything you would regret or change?
I would change the behavior where this could have been peaceful and lawful, and it turned assaultive and criminal. That's the one thing I would change. Moving forward we're looking to review our policies, and also, I'm always open to critique and criticism and assessment, but I'm not open to criminal activity and violence. - Chief Kerr Putney replied.
Q: Your riot officers never used their batons during the protests, were they under orders not to do so?
The people on the streets get to make those decisions and determinations because they see it closer. They talk to their command. Our people have been practicing this, I think we got better at it during the DNC obviously, and now we continue to use that model. First we want to do what we call soft gear, the officers on bike uniforms are guiding people, if that doesn't work, we have another layer that cones behind, when our officers start getting assaulted, and things thrown at them, we're gonna put on our head gear, and our vests and protect them. I would be derelict in my duty if I didn't do so? - Chief Kerr Putney replied.
Q: How's your morale and the morale of your officers after this past week?
Our heroes are resilient. They're amazing. We're not perfect. No human is but there as close to it as I've seen. Don't judge us by what we say, judge us by what we do. Come see us in Charlotte, moving down the road. Come see us in Charlotte six months from now, a year from now. You'll be impressed just as I have been the whole time I've been here since 1989. Great city, not perfect, but now we're at a crossroads, let's deal with our history, let's deal with what's on the ground and let's make Charlotte a better place for everybody. Come see us, you can't help but be impressed. - Chief Kerr Putney replied.