The man a Columbus State University police sergeant fatally shot Sunday afternoon had a loaded pistol as three CSU officers chased and ordered him to stop, the university disclosed Tuesday.
Sgt. Ben Scott, a veteran officer with CSU and the Columbus Police Department, shot and killed Zikarious Jaquan Flint after a student reported seeing someone loading a handgun while sitting in a gazebo near the Courtyard 1 apartments on the main campus, according to the university.
Flint was shot twice — once in the back and once in the back of the neck — according to the Muscogee County Coroner. Flint, 20, was not a CSU student.
The CSU account differs from what an attorney representing Flint’s family has said.
“The three witnesses that I spoke to said Mr. Flint was running away, and he didn’t have any type of weapon in either of his hands while running,” said attorney Stacey Jackson.
Flint was on campus with three friends who also were not CSU students, Jackson said. Flint’s friends were the three witnesses Jackson cited. They and Flint were visiting CSU students, Jackson said.
According to a CSU news release, several witnesses came forward to say they saw a man running from police with a gun Sunday.
“A Glock model 22 .40-caliber pistol, holding eight rounds of ammunition, was recovered where the victim fell, adjacent to a Courtyard 1 apartment building,” said the CSU release. “The weapon was turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as evidence.”
The GBI is investigating the shooting. On Tuesday, Jackson said Flint’s three friends stand by their accounts.
“They said Mr. Flint was running away when he was shot in the back and did not have a weapon in either hand,” Jackson said. CSU released additional information Tuesday in response to a Ledger-Enquirer Open Records Act request. The university previously declined to discuss specific details of the shooting.
“We released the information based on a public records request,” said CSU spokesman John Lester. “We also released the information that would not jeopardize the ongoing GBI investigation.”
Other details CSU disclosed include:
Police arriving on the scene identified themselves and told the gunman to drop his weapon.
Scott was among three officers who responded to the call. CSU Cpl. Ben Pack and Lt. Jason Youngblood also were there.
The gunman fled, running through Courtyard 1, across University Avenue, and then back across University Avenue, re-entering the student apartment complex. Officers were in pursuit the whole time, repeatedly ordering the man to drop his weapon.
When the man turned and raised his arm, Sgt. Scott fired twice.
Jackson said he would not discuss whether Flint had a gun on campus or had ever been seen with a gun. “The most important detail is what happened on campus,” Jackson said. “The focus should be on whether or not this was a lawful shooting.”
The NAACP Georgia State Conference said in a Tuesday news release it is “seriously concerned” about the case.
“Putting aside legal questions, this story began when someone spotted a young black man believed to be up to ‘no good.’ American history is filled with tragedies that began just that way,” wrote Francys Johnson, state president of the Georgia NAACP.
Abraham Wallace, president of the Columbus NAACP branch, called for a quick and thorough GBI investigation.
“We reserve any judgment on this case until more information is made known to the public,” Wallace was quoted in the news release. “However, we are very concerned about reports that seem to conflict. Statements have been made that he was running away from the officers and shots entered him from the back. CSU Police have stated that he ran away from the officers but suddenly turned around, faced the officers, threw his hands up into the air, and then was shot. May the truth be known.”
The NAACP says many questions remain unanswered. The Georgia NAACP launched its own investigation and asked anyone with information to contact it at 1-800-303-2694.
Also Tuesday, CSU gave the Ledger-Enquirer training and personnel records for Scott, 43, whom the university hired less than two years ago, after he worked more than 17 years for Columbus police. In 2004, he was named Columbus Police Officer of the Year, according to CSU, which added these details:
On March 25, Scott passed three Judgmental Pistol Shooting scenarios in a simulator.
In his most recent personnel evaluation, Scott either met or exceeded expectations on 17 performance criteria evaluated by his supervisor, Lt. Walter L. Brown.
Scott rose to the rank of corporal with Columbus police, and remains eligible for rehire by the department.
“Scott told CSU police interviewers that he was interested in the Tuition Assistance Program that the university offers, allowing employees to earn up to six credit hours a semester without charge,” said CSU. “Scott is currently pursuing a master’s degree in CSU’s Command College, which mostly serves mid-career police professionals.”
The GBI inquiry could take up to three months to complete, said Fred Wimberly, the GBI special agent in charge of the Columbus office.
Results of the probe will be turned over to the district attorney’s office.