A Georgia Tech police officer overreacted by firing a gunshot that killed a student who investigators say was armed with a knife and ignored commands to drop it, a lawyer for the family said.
Campus police killed Scout Schultz, 21, who they say was advancing on officers with a knife. Schultz refused to put down the knife and kept moving toward officers late Saturday outside a dormitory, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.
“Officers provided multiple verbal commands and attempted to speak with Shultz who was not cooperative and would not comply with the officers’ commands,” the agency said in a statement. “Shultz continued to advance on the officers with the knife.”
Attorney Chris Stewart told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he thinks Schultz was having a mental breakdown and didn’t know what to do. Stewart and the student’s family plan a news conference Monday morning.
WSB-TV reported that the item involved, still on the ground when its news crew arrived, appeared to be a “metal, flip-open, multi-tool knife.”
Authorities haven’t identified the officer who shot him 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 GBI 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.
Schultz was president of Pride Alliance at Georgia Tech.
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.
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 computer engineering student had attempted suicide two years ago using a belt as a noose, she said.
Many questions remained on Monday.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Nelly Miles said Sunday she did not know whether the officer who fired at Schultz was trained in dealing with suspects who have mental disorders.
The GBI, through its Crisis Intervention Team, has trained about 10,000 local, state and federal law enforcement officers since it began in 2004, the Atlanta newspaper reported. Atlanta, Roswell, Henry County and now DeKalb are among the agencies that require all of its officers to take the class.
Some agencies do not require it.
“Why didn’t they use some nonlethal force, like pepper spray or Tasers?” Scout’s mother told the Atlanta newspaper.
Police at the Georgia Institute of Technology do not carry Tasers or stun guns, but are equipped with pepper spray, a Georgia Tech spokesman told the newspaper.
In May 2015, the University System of Georgia implemented a system-wide campus safety initiative. Among its recommendations: establish a program to review training needs for campus law enforcement at the state’s public colleges and universities. It set a 2016 timeline for establishing the program to identify gaps and develop necessary training programs.
The outcome of those recommendations wasn’t immediately known Monday. A representative of the university system was looking into the matter.