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Lawyer: Police Used Excessive Force in Killing Georgia Tech Pride Leader


The shooting death of Scout Schultz continues to reverberate.

The president of Georgia Tech's Pride Alliance was shot to death on Saturday after wielding a knife then calling out police to shoot them. Now the family attorneys of Scout Schultz, who identified as nonbinary, bisexual, and intersex, say authorities "overreacted."

Georgia Tech Police entered the scene after receiving calls reporting Schultz was carrying weapons on campus. When police found them (Schultz's preferred pronoun), they were what attorney L. Chris Stewart describes as barefoot, "disoriented," and having a "mental breakdown." A cellphone video show officers yelling at Schultz to halt and put down the knife. Police shot they after the student continued to step forward.

Stewart, who has previously represented the families of Alton Sterling and Walter Scott, underscored that Schultz's mental health struggles did not justify their shooting, and that officers must be better trained with dealing with people in psychological distress. Although he credits Georgia Tech police for their attempts to descalate the threat, he said the officer who opened fire either "lost patience" or lacked proper training. He also felt hat the campus police should have stun guns, not just firearms. "People have breakdowns sometimes," Stewart said at a Monday press conference. "That doesn't mean they deserve to die."

There is also a debate as to if Schultz was wielding a knife, as reported, or a unsheathed multipurpose tool. According to Stewart, who claims the latter, Schultz was "walking slowly, not running, at the officers, not threatening them with a knife... but with a multipurpose tool that probably everybody has in their car," Stewart said. "That's the truth. We don't understand why Georgia Tech won't admit that."

William Schultz, the student's father, is accusing police of using excessive force. "Why did you have to shoot? That's the question. That's the only question that matters now," he said in a statement. "Whatever happened shouldn't have ended in a death."

Schultz was a senior on a full scholarship to Georgia Tech with a computer engineering major and a 3.9 GPA. Schultz struggled with depression and had attempted suicide before, according to their father. Student groups are calling for more counseling and heath resources on campus, particularly for transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

Sarah Buttons, a mental health counselor and board member of Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, knew Schultz from Georgia Safe Schools Coalition events. Buttons believes Schultz's tireless activism contributed to the mental breakdown.

"Scout was an outspoken leader so it feels in character with this person to not forget how they lived but also... to talk about the circumstances of their death," she told CNN. "Sometimes, our leaders get really worn down, so how do we make sure our leaders in the community are supported?"

The Pride Alliance that Schultz led will be holding an on-campus vigil on Monday night. The group has responded to they's death, posting on Facebook, "Scout always reminded us to think critically about the intersection of identities and how a multitude of factors play into one's experience on Tech's campus and beyond," the group said. "We love you Scout and we will continue to push for change."

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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