We wrote here about Keith Lamont Scott and his long criminal record which includes assault convictions and gun offenses. But what about Brentley Vinson, the black police officer who fatally shot Scott?
The Charlotte Observer provides this profile of Officer Vinson. From it, we learn that he grew up in Charlotte, was a football star in high school, and dreamed of becoming a police officer like his father.
Vinson was all-conference in football as a high school junior, but was unable to play during his senior year due to a serious knee injury. The next year, he played at a prep school, earning a scholarship to Liberty University.
At Liberty, Vinson studied criminal justice. He became a captain of the football team and led it in tackles as a senior in 2012.
In 2014, Vinson joined the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police force. He has not been subject to any disciplinary action, according to personnel records released by the police department.
What kind of a guy is Vinson. His middle school football coach said this about him:
I thought when he became a police officer like his dad (Alex) that it was a perfect fit for him. I’ve watched this kid work his butt off from an early age. He’s a phenomenal kid and happens to be in an unfortunate situation right now, and I hate to see him be in the middle of it and being vilified the way he is.
Vinson’s high school football coach was equally effusive. He says that after Vinson returned to Charlotte, he would often ask his former star to come and speak to his players. At one point, Vinson mentored a player who had suffered a knee injury similar to the one that kept Vinson off the field his senior year.
The coach concluded:
We need more Brent Vinsons, that type of person, in our communities. . .He’s a natural leader and one of those guys who always had the best interest of others before himself.
The coach was quick to add that he doesn’t know the events surrounding the shooting of Scott. And, though it seems highly implausible that Vinson shot Scott for no reason, we cannot conclude from Vinson’s exemplary past that he acted properly on this occasion.
But we can conclude that Vinson’s ambition was to serve and protect the citizens of his home town, not to kill black men without justification. We can also say that it’s awful to see this promising young black man vilified before the facts are in.