Scout Schultz

Georgia student Scout Schultz shot dead by Atlanta police

University police in the US state of Georgia have shot and killed an LGBT student activist, sparking a state investigation.

Police encountered Scout Schultz outside a campus dormitory in Atlanta after a call about “a person with a knife and a gun” late on Saturday.

Footage has emerged showing Schultz, 21, refusing to obey police commands to drop a knife, and advancing on them.

Schultz’s mother said police should not have used lethal force.

What happened to Schultz?

In a video filmed by a fellow student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Schultz is heard saying “Shoot me!” several times while continually walking towards the officers.

“Drop the knife, man, come on” a police officer responds.

“Nobody wants to hurt you” another says, before one officer opens fire, hitting Schultz in the chest.

Schultz did not appear to be holding a gun, investigators said, despite what had been reported to police.

The computer engineering student from Lilburn, Georgia was transported to the Grady Memorial Hospital, later dying from injuries sustained in the shooting, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said.

The state medical examiner’s office in Decatur will conduct a post-mortem, the GBI added.

Image captionSchultz’s mother noted that the engineering student (pictured) was very active on campus

Why did police open fire?

Police in the US are permitted – and often required – to use lethal force against any suspect who they believe presents an immediate danger to officers or members of the community.

Officers must have a “reasonable belief” that an individual is capable of committing violence, in order to fire on them.

Exact figures for police shootings vary widely, since police forces are not required to submit incidents to the FBI for data collection.

But according to the Washington Post, which tracks civilian deaths at the hands of police, nearly 1,000 people were killed across the country in 2015.

No police officers from the Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) were injured in the Saturday night incident, the schools’ police force has said.

The officer who opened fire has not been named.

School representatives say it was probably the first on-campus police shooting in the past 20 years, if ever.

Who was Scout Schultz?

Schultz – who identified as intersex and preferred to be referred to by the pronoun “they” – was the president of the Pride Alliance at Georgia Tech, and was politically active in progressive causes.

“We are all deeply saddened by what has occurred,” the group said in a 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.”

Schultz’s mother Lynne said Scout, who was born Scott Schultz, had numerous medical issues, suffered from depression and had attempted suicide two years ago.

“Why didn’t they use some nonlethal force, like pepper spray or Tasers?” she told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A spokesperson for the university said that campus police do not carry Tasers, but are equipped with pepper spray.

What reaction has there been?

A lawyer for Schultz’s parents, Chris Stewart, said the blade on the folding pocket knife that Schultz was allegedly holding was not open, and noted that it appears in the video that Schultz never ran towards police.

“I just don’t understand how they couldn’t have Tasers,” Mr Stewart said, adding that he thinks Schultz was “having a mental breakdown and didn’t know what to do”.

“The area was secured. There was no one around at risk,” the lawyer said, also questioning whether the university police had received sufficient training to deal with suspects with mental health issues.

Georgia tech said it was “deeply saddened” by what had happened.

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