ATLANTA (Reuters) - The family of a Georgia Institute of Technology student shot and killed by police in Atlanta over the weekend questioned on Monday why campus officers did not try to disarm the 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.
Schultz made a 911 call to Georgia Tech Police alerting them to a suspicious person on campus, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said. Schultz said there was a man with long blond hair “holding a knife and possibly armed with a gun on his hip.”
Three suicide notes were found in Schultz’s dormitory room, the GBI said in a statement.
Chris Stewart, a lawyer representing the family, said at a news conference earlier on Monday that Schultz was carrying a multi-purpose tool with pliers and “a tiny little blade that was not even open.”
Investigators did find a multi-purpose tool on the scene, but no firearm, the GBI said.
Schultz’s father said his child had a history of mental illness but had seemed to be doing well.
“Why did you have to shoot?” William Schultz said at the news conference. “That’s the only question that matters right now. Why did you kill my son?”
Stewart said the family will file lawsuits against the campus police and Georgia Tech.
Scout Schultz was president of Georgia Tech’s Pride Alliance, an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. Schultz was nonbinary, according to the Pride Alliance website, a term used for gender identities that are not exclusively male or female, and preferred the pronoun “they” instead of he or she.
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.
Stewart wanted to know why the officers did not use Tasers to subdue Schultz.
Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Mary Milliken