Officer who shot, killed Keith Lamont Scott placed on leave after man who suffered medical emergency in police custody dies

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department has released the names of five officers who have been placed on leave after a man who had a serious medical emergency while in police custody died.

One of the officers involved in the incident was the one who shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott in September 2016. 

On Jan. 23, officers observed a drug deal at the intersection of Whisnant Street and Burton Street and pulled over a suspect vehicle. The driver, Harold Easter, was taken into custody after officers found that he was in possession of cocaine and marijuana. 

Police said as Easter was being interviewed and processed, he began to experience a medical emergency and lost consciousness. Medic was called and Easter was taken to a nearby hospital where he was being treated for a life-threatening condition. He was pronounced dead on Sunday.

MAN WHO HAD MEDICAL EMERGENCY WHILE IN POLICE CUSTODY DIES

On Monday, CMPD announced that while the department’s Homicide Unit and Internal Affairs Bureau continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding Easter’s death, the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave. Those officers, who all work in the Metro Division, include: 

  • Sergeant Nicolas Vincent, hired on Jan. 28, 2008.
  • Officer Brentley Vinson, hired on July 21, 2014.
  • Officer Michael Benfield, hired on Oct. 27, 2014.
  • Officer Michael Joseph, hired on May 21, 2018.
  • Officer Shon Sheffield, hired on Aug. 13, 2012. 

Officer Brentley Vinson was the subject of scrutiny for months in 2016 after he shot and killed 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, an act Chief Kerr Putney said was in self-defense. 

No charges were filed against Officer Vinson, with the Mecklenburg County District Attorney saying Vinson “acted lawfully” in using deadly force against Scott.

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The shooting sparked days of protests across the city. I-85 was shut down as protesters took over the highway, looting tractor-trailers and setting fires. 

In the days that followed, tear gas flew as high as the buildings in uptown, shattered windows and broken doors scrapped the Epicentre, and protester Justin Carr was shot and killed allegedly by another demonstrator in the chaos. 

Years later, Scott’s shooting and the following protests remain etched in the minds of many who were in the city at the time. Scott was the father of seven children. 

In August 218, Rakeyia Scott, Keith Scott’s wife, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Charlotte and Officer Vinson.

The 21-page suit claimed that officers could have found a way to de-escalate the situation that did not require deadly force and that Vinson and the other officers moved too fast and too aggressively when they tried to arrest him. 

No other information has been released concerning the death of Harold Easter. CMPD says the investigation is active and ongoing. 

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