Campus police at a university in the US state of Georgia have shot and killed an LGBTQ student activist who they say was advancing on officers with a knife.
Scout Schultz, 21, refused to put down a knife and kept moving toward the officers late on Sunday outside a dormitory at Georgia Tech, according to a statement from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The police used the person’s given name of Scott, but the 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.
WSB-TV reported that the knife, which was still on the ground when reporters arrived, appeared to be a half-open multi-tool without any of the tools extended.
The GBI said officers tried repeatedly to get Schultz to drop the knife, but they refused to do so.
The officer who opened fire has not been named. Shultz later died in hospital.
Two students gave the TV station video footage of the incident in which officers can be heard repeatedly shouting, “Drop the knife!”
Aaron Thurston told the station, “He was yelling, like, ‘Hey, shoot me!’” That could not be heard in the video footage.
“He took a couple more steps forward — it wasn’t a lunge; it was a couple more steps forward. And then the officer fired,” Thurston said.
A statement from Georgia Tech on Monday said: “Our hearts and prayers go out to Scout’s family, friends and colleagues as we mourn Scout’s life and the unrealised potential of what could have been.”
Schultz’s mother, Lynne, told the station that her oldest child was a brilliant student despite contending with numerous medical issues, including depression, and that they had twice attempted suicide.
The lawyer L Chris Stewart told the station that he thought Schultz “was having a mental breakdown and didn’t know what to do”.
He said he did not think Schultz was attempting “suicide by police”, and officers should have used non-lethal force. “The area was secured. There was no one around at risk,” Stewart said.
Most of Schultz’s stress was related to school, their mother said.
“Scout was always a perfectionist,” Lynne Schultz said. “They always worried they were going to fail a test but got all As and only two Bs at Tech.”