[dropcap]G[/dropcap]eorgia Tech student Scout Shultz was fatally shot by police on campus late Saturday night, reports Bustle. Just 21 years old, Schultz had a tense altercation with the police after reportedly phoning in a 911 call themself, alerting police of a “suspicious person on campus,” armed with a knife and possibly a gun. According to the official Georgia Bureau of Investigation, a total of three suicide notes were discovered in Schultz’s dorm room. In an interview with AJC, Schultz’s mom explained that the student had suffered numerous medical issues in the past, including depression so severe that they had attempted suicide two years prior to their death.[caption id="attachment_100449" align="aligncenter" width="774"] “The moments before Scout Schultz was shot by police were captured on video.”-NY Daily News[/caption]
Who Was Scout Shultz?
Remarkably, Scout Schultz was an avid LGBT+ activist. They were president of their school’s Pride Alliance, active in protests on campus, identifying as intersex and preferring to be referred to using the “they” pronoun. Georgia Tech’s Pride Alliance expressed their grief in an online statement:
“They have been the driving force behind Pride Alliance for the past two years,” the group said. “They pushed us to do more events and a larger variety [of] events.”
Indeed, Shultz was so active in the LGBT+ community that upon getting the dreaded call from police informing about Scout’s death, Schultz’s mom first assumed the shooting occurred at a protest, not randomly, on campus no less.
Scout’s Final Moments
Scout’s final moments merely exist inside footage recorded by a fellow student at GIT. Now removed from Vimeo, the video shows Schultz planted outside the entrance to a parking garage, repeating “Shoot me!” as they walk towards the officers.
An officer can be heard saying, “Drop the knife, man, come on.”
“Nobody wants to hurt you-“
This is the last comment heard before Schultz is shot in the chest. They were transported to the Grady Memorial Hospital, ultimately dying from the gunshot wound.[caption id="attachment_100450" align="aligncenter" width="686"] “Scout Schultz,” Gwinnett Daily Post[/caption]
“Why did you kill my son?”
Controversy has broken out regarding the shooting of Scout, and for understandable reasons. Many are questioning whether police actually had the right to use lethal force in subduing Scout, considering the student was merely waving around a pocketknife, which was not even open.
Police in the U.S. are indeed encouraged to use fire against those believed to pose an immediate threat to officers or bystanders. However, this belief must be reasonable; officers cannot fire at a suspect unless they have a concrete reason to believe the said suspect is dangerous.
Police brutality is no hushed topic in today’s political climate. With the stories of Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, and Anthony Lamar Smith still echoing in our minds, it is no question that officers are often times trigger-happy. In fact, nearly 1,000 people were killed at the hands of police across the country in 2015.
Georgia Tech’s campus police do not carry tasers but do have pepper spray at all times. Thus, many are questioning why the officers simply did not spray Schultz, rather than shooting. Indeed, Schultz’s “weapon” was not even extended, and so it is a wonder as to how officers truly felt their lives were in danger, enough to fire a gun.
[caption id="attachment_100459" align="aligncenter" width="750"] “Lynne Schultz, mother of Scout Schultz, stands beside an enlarged photograph of a multipurpose tool.”- NY Daily News[/caption]
“Why did you have to shoot? Why did you kill my son?”
Violent Protests Erupt
On Monday, Sept. 17, a candlelight vigil held on campus for Schultz, some mourners launched into a chaotic protest that resulted in the arrest of three people and the destruction of a cop car.
The NY Daily News reports that protestors acted violently, with one even setting a Georgia Tech Police cruiser on fire by throwing a flare at it. Roughly fifty students marched to the campus police headquarters, and videos documenting the protest show a campus street barely visible through smoke, protestors being pinned to cars and tackled by officers.
Overall, the protest occurred in defense of Schultz, opposing the methods used by the campus police which ultimately resulted in Schultz’s untimely death.
Scout Schultz’s family issued a statement soon following the protest:
“Answering violence with violence is not the answer. Our goal is to work diligently to make positive change at Georgia Tech in an effort to ensure a safer campus for all students.”
There is currently no further information regarding the trial of the officer who fatally shot Schultz.