Transgender activist and Georgia Tech Pride Alliance president Scout Schultz was shot and killed by a university officer early Sunday morning—and now, two videos have emerged capturing the activist’s interactions with police.
Police approached Schultz, who identified as non-binary and intersex, after a bystander called 911 and reported “a person with a knife and a gun” was on campus. Video footage does not show Schultz carrying a gun, but rather, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, they appear to have a multi-tool pocket knife with no blade drawn.
In one video obtained by BuzzFeed News, Schultz is shown walking slowly toward officers who demand the 21-year-old release the knife.
“Shoot me!” Schultz yells at the officers, to which one responds, “No, drop the knife.”
After Schultz stops and then begins walking over to police officers again, one officer opens fire, causing Schultz to collapse on the ground. Schultz was reportedly shot in the heart and died 30 minutes later at Grady Memorial Hospital.
Another video, posted on LiveLeak, shows the shooting from a less obscured angle. Three police officers are shown pointing weapons at Schultz as they slowly walk toward the officers. One officer then opens fire.
The two videos shed light into the altercation, which shows a locked-down area with multiple police officers cornering Schultz. As a result, many are left wondering why police shot the student in the first place. Schultz’s mother, Lynne Schultz, has since spoken out.
“Why didn’t they use some non-lethal force, like pepper spray or tasers?” she told the Journal-Constitution.
Lynne’s attorney Chris Stewart believes the student was suffering from a nervous breakdown but was not attempting to be shot by police officers.
“I think [Scout] was having a mental breakdown and didn’t know what to do,” Stewart said to the Journal-Constitution. “The area was secured. There was no one around at risk.”
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has since begun investigating the incident, although the bureau’s press release uses Schultz’s deadname—a transgender person’s former name used prior to transitioning—which is a harmful and disrespectful practice. Ongoing media coverage on Schultz’s death has remained insensitive, with some outlets referring to Schultz by their former name, and others using the incorrect pronouns. Also, across the internet, some have mocked Schultz for being transgender, even on their memorial page.
LGBTQ activists have since spoken out against Schultz’s treatment in the wake of their death.
It boils my blood to see my people misgendered in death as they were in life.#ScoutSchultz
— Nobody likes Bernie? Sure Jan. | #NotMeUS (@out42020) September 18, 2017
The inevitable mocking of Scout Schultz's gender identity is already starting to happen. I really wish the world could be less vile.
— Spudhero (@SpudHero) September 17, 2017
GA Tech campus pig killed a non-binary, intersex transgender student who appeared to be dealing w/ a MH crisis. #ScoutSchultz
— klobuchar mushroom people sitting around all day (@theOFFICIALmilf) September 17, 2017
Schultz joins a growing list of transgender Americans who have been killed during 2017, many of whom faced disrespectful news coverage by local media. Violence is particularly targeted against transgender women, especially Black trans women. Previously in 2015, 22 transgender women were killed during the year, 19 of which were transgender women of color.
Update 10:15am, Sept. 19: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Schultz had apparently been suicidal. They left behind three suicide notes and called 911, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.
This only fuels the debate over whether police are trained and properly follow procedure when dealing with people with mental illness. A vigil for Schultz on campus Monday night gave way to violent protest, where a police car was set on fire. Two officers received minor injuries and three protesters were arrested.