Police in Georgia are under scrutiny following the deadly shooting of an LGBT student activist who was apparently armed with a knife.
Scout Shultz, 21, was shot after being involved in a standoff with police at the Georgia Institute of Technology campus in Atlanta late on Saturday.
Police said they had received a 911 call reporting a person armed with a knife and a gun. Officers encountered Schultz, who was armed with a knife, and asked the student to drop the weapon several times. Photos of the knife taken on the scene showed that the blade was not extended, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Schultz failed to respond to the officers’ demands to drop the weapon and continued to advance on the officers. One officer subsequently shot Schultz, who later died in hospital.
Video footage of the standoff shows Schultz slowly walking towards officers and shouting “Shoot me!” during the standoff. The officers are heard encouraging Schultz to drop the knife on several occasions. “Nobody wants to hurt you,” one of the officers said at one point in the video.
After the shot is fired, Schultz screams out in pain and crumples to the ground.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said it was conducting an independent investigation into the incident and would provide the results to the local district attorney’s office. The officer who opened fire has not been named.
Schultz, born Scott Schultz, did not identify as male or female and was majoring in computer engineering at Georgia Tech. The victim’s mother, Lynne Schultz, told the Journal Constitution that Schultz was a talented student but suffered from depression and had attempted suicide two years ago.
She questioned why police used lethal force. “Why didn’t they use some non-lethal force, like pepper spray or tasers?” she said, adding that Schultz had been shot in the heart.
The president of Georgia Tech, George P. “Bud” Peterson, said that the incident marked a “heart-wrenchingly painful time” for all at the school and offered condolences to Schultz’s family.
Schultz was the president of the Pride Alliance at Georgia Tech, an organization for LGBTQ students, staff and alumni.
“We are deeply saddened by what has occurred. 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 [of] events, and we would not be the organization we are known as without their constant hard work and dedication,” said the group in a statement, using Schultz’s preferred gender pronoun.
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