ATLANTA — A Georgia Tech senior was shot in the heart Saturday night because a campus police officer “overreacted,” attorney L. Chris Stewart said in a news conference Monday.
Georgia Tech Police officers responded to a 911 call of a person with a knife and a gun on the downtown Atlanta campus at 11:17 p.m. They encountered Scout Schultz, 21, barefoot and “disoriented” in the middle of a “mental breakdown,” Stewart said.
Cellphone video shows the officers repeatedly yelling at Schultz to put down the knife and not to move. In the video, after Schultz takes a few steps forward, an officer opens fire.
The lawyer says he doesn’t appreciate the narrative surrounding the shooting that has been put forward by the school and law enforcement.
Stewart said Monday that reports have made it sound like Schultz was carrying a big knife when he was actually carrying a multi-tool gadget. Stewart says a photo taken by a WSB-TV team when it arrived on the scene shows that the knife wasn’t even extended.
Stewart said the officers were not facing any immediate danger when one inappropriately fired on Schultz, who he says had a history of depression and appeared to be suffering a mental breakdown.
Stewart said that while some officers tried to de-esclate the situation, one went too far, leading Georgia Tech to cast Schultz as a “knife-wielding” threat even though the student was holding a closed multipurpose tool.
The officer “decided to shoot Scout in the heart because they either weren’t trained or they lost patience. They definitely were not in any immediate threat for their life or their safety,” Stewart said.
[Originally published Sunday at 9:56 p.m.]
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the fatal shooting of a Georgia Tech student by campus police late Saturday after the student was confronted about carrying a knife.
According to the GBI, Georgia Tech Police officers responded to a 911 call about a person with a knife and a gun on the downtown Atlanta campus at 11:17 p.m.
The GBI said that when officers arrived, they found Scout Schultz, 21, outside a dormitory with a knife.
A cellphone video taken by a Georgia Tech student from his dorm room across the street shows the confrontation play out in the brightly-lit entrance to a parking garage. At least two officers have their guns drawn as Schultz walks toward them with arms down.
A knife is not visible in the cellphone video seen by CNN. Footage shot by CNN affiliate WSB after the shooting, however, shows a metal, flip-open utility tool that would likely include a small blade, lying on the ground.
“Come on, man, drop the knife,” one officer says. “Come on, let’s drop it,” another officer says.
Schultz walks toward them slowly and shouts, “Shoot me!”
“No, drop the knife,” the first officer says.
The officers repeatedly tell Schultz to drop the knife and one says, “Nobody wants to hurt you.” Another says, “What’s going on, man?”
More officers’ voices are heard, telling Schultz not to move and to drop the knife. Schultz pauses briefly, then takes three steps forward before being shot once and falling to the ground.
Schultz died at a hospital.
Georgia Tech said Schultz was a fourth-year computer engineering major from the Atlanta suburb of Lilburn. Schultz also had a minor in biomedical engineering and planned to work on medical devices, according to a profile on the website of the Georgia Tech Pride Alliance, where Schultz was president.
The profile said Schultz identified as nonbinary and intersex and preferred the pronouns they and them.
“We are all deeply saddened by what has occurred,” the Pride Alliance said in a statement on its website Sunday. “They have been the driving force behind Pride Alliance for the past two years. They pushed us to do more events and a larger variety events, and we would not be the organization we are known as without their constant hard work and dedication. Their leadership allowed us to create change across campus and in the Atlanta community.”
“Scout always reminded us to think critically about the intersection of identities and how a multitude of factors play into one’s experience on Tech’s campus and beyond,” the group said. “We love you Scout and we will continue to push for change.”
The group planned a vigil for Schultz on campus Monday night.
A spokesman for the Georgia Tech Police Department, Lance Wallace, told CNN their officers do not carry stun guns.
Schultz’s parents told CNN affiliate WGCL they have contacted a lawyer and plan to make a statement Monday.
“We’re still gathering facts,” Bill Schultz said. “We don’t really know what happened.”