Mourners gather to remember black man
killed by Charlotte police
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[October 15, 2016]
By Harriet McLeod
JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (Reuters) - Mourners at
the funeral for Keith Scott, whose death in a police shooting in
Charlotte, North Carolina last month led to a week of sometimes violent
protests, called for a commitment to change and an end to hate.
The mood was somber inside the church on James Island, Scott's hometown
near Charleston, South Carolina, some 200 miles from where the
43-year-old father of seven was shot and killed on Sept. 20.
Scott's family disputes the official police account that he was armed
and acting aggressively before he was gunned down in a parking lot, a
use of lethal force that fueled fresh concerns over the treatment of
black men by U.S. law enforcement.
But Friday's funeral was mostly about remembering the man who loved
reggae and reading, as well as the legacy he left behind. Dressed in
white, Scott lay with his hands folded on his stomach in a half-open
casket adorned with a spray of white flowers.
"Keith's life will not be in vain," Scott's father-in-law, Rayford
Dotch, told the congregation, urging people to vote and get educated.
Afterward, the 78-year-old minister said his hopeful message was
directed at his grandchildren.
"We never let anger lead them," he said.
Charlotte resident Michelle Cromwell, 40, a friend of Scott and his wife
Rakeyia, admitted she was angry when she penned a song titled "Black
Lives Matter, Too" after his death. She apologized to the congregation
for the political nature of her words about racism and black men dying
at the hands of police.
"We continue to feel the hate," said the mother of two boys, adding
later, "It's a hard thing to swallow."
The funeral program said Scott had a fresh outlook on life after being
badly hurt but surviving a motorcycle accident last November.
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Keirra LaNae Scott (C), daughter of police shooting victim Keith
Scott, mourns with family members during his funeral at the First
Baptist Church in James Island, South Carolina, U.S. October 14,
2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
In an interview aired on CBS this week, Rakeyia Scott said she
believed the medication her husband took for his injuries had caused
him to be confused by police officers' demands.
An independent autopsy released by the family on Wednesday showed
Scott had gunshot wounds in his back, abdomen and wrist.
His funeral service was initially planned for last week but was
postponed as Hurricane Matthew bore down on the region.
"I think the hurricane was Uncle Keith being humorous," said his
niece Kaona Mercer, 26, a paralegal in Columbia. "He wasn't ready
for us to bury him yet. He was a free-spirited, loving man."
(Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Additional reporting and writing by
Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Bernard Orr)
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