ATLANTA (Reuters) – The family of a Georgia Institute of Technology student shot and killed by police in Atlanta over the weekend is questioning why campus officers did not try to disarm the knife-wielding computer engineering major with nonlethal force.
Scout Schultz, 21, died after being shot on campus on Saturday night. The student ignored repeated commands to drop the knife and stop moving toward officers, police said.
It was unclear what led to the standoff outside a Georgia Tech dormitory. Campus police had responded to a report of someone armed with a gun and a knife, though no firearms were found at the scene, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said in a statement on Sunday.
Video of the incident recorded by a witness and posted on the video-sharing website Vimeo showed that Schultz’s arms were down by the side as officers said “do not move” and “drop the knife.”
The moment of the shooting was partially obscured in the video. A single shot could be heard, followed by screams.
Schultz’s mother, Lynne Schultz, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper on Sunday that her child had a history of mental illness.
Chris Stewart, a lawyer representing the family, told the newspaper on Sunday that Scout Schultz was carrying a fold-out utility knife and the blade was not extended.
Stewart wanted to know why the officers were not armed with Tasers, which he said could have subdued Schultz.
“The area was secured,” Stewart said. “There was no one around at risk.”
Stewart could not be reached immediately on Monday for comment. Georgia Tech referred all questions to the GBI.
The medical examiner’s office in Decatur will perform an autopsy, the GBI said.
Schultz was president of Georgia Tech’s Pride Alliance, an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Schultz was nonbinary, a term used for gender identities that are not exclusively male or female, and preferred the pronoun “they” instead of he or she.
A statement from the group said Schultz’s leadership helped create change on the campus and in the Atlanta community. “We love you Scout and we will continue to push for change,” the group said.
Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jeffrey Benkoe