ATLANTA — The lawyer for the family of a student killed by Georgia Tech police says the officer who fired the fatal shot overreacted.
Campus police killed 21-year-old Scout Schultz, who they say was advancing on officers with a knife. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Schultz refused to put down the knife and kept moving toward officers late Saturday outside a dormitory.
Attorney Chris Stewart told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he thinks Schultz was having a mental breakdown and didn’t know what to do.
During a Monday morning news conference, Schultz’s parents questioned the tactics of the responding police officers.
They asked whether non-lethal means could have been used to deal with Schultz, nothing specifically that tasers or mace were an option to subdue Schultz, given the situation.
WSB-TV reported the item involved, still on the ground when its news crew arrived, appeared to be a “metal, flip-open, multi-tool knife.”
Schultz was president of Pride Alliance at Georgia Tech.
Authorities haven’t identified the officer who shot Schultz nor have they released the 911 call that led to the confrontation. Preliminary information indicates that the initial 911 call reported a person with a knife and a gun about 11:17 p.m. Saturday, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.
Georgia Tech on Monday refused to release the 911 call, or any personnel or disciplinary reports involving the officers, saying that such information is exempt from Georgia’s open records law.
In its response to a request from The Associated Press under Georgia’s open records law, the school also refused to release any police bodycam or dash-cam videos which might show the encounter.
The fourth-year computer engineering student used the name Scout and preferred the pronouns “they” and “them” rather than “him” or “her.”
“I’m bisexual, nonbinary and intersex,” Schultz wrote in a Pride Alliance profile.
Officers tried repeatedly to get Schultz to drop the knife, but Schultz refused to do so, according to the the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Two students shared video of the incident with the station. Officers can be heard repeatedly shouting, “Drop the knife!”
Lynne Schultz told the newspaper that her oldest child was a brilliant student despite numerous medical issues including depression, and had twice attempted suicide.
The family’s attorney told the newspaper that he thinks Schultz “was having a mental breakdown and didn’t know what to do.”
Stewart said he doesn’t think Schultz was attempting “suicide by police,” and officers should have used nonlethal force. “The area was secured. There was no one around at risk,” Stewart said.
Lynne Schultz said most of Scout’s stress was related to school.
“Scout was always a perfectionist,” Lynne Schultz said. “They always worried he was going to fail a test but got all A’s and only two B’s at Tech.”
During the news conference, Stewart said the family is planning to file a civil lawsuit soon.
Contributing: Michael King, WXIA-TV, Atlanta.
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