ATLANTA, Ga. — Police fatally shot a student who identifies as “non-binary” on Saturday at the Georgia Institute of Technology after he failed to drop a multi-tool knife after repeatedly being ordered to do so.
Scott “Scout” Schultz, 21, was a computer engineering student at the school and also served as the president of Georgia Tech’s Pride Alliance for homosexual and transgender students.
“I’m bisexual, non-binary, and intersex,” his profile on the Alliance website reads. “When I’m not running Pride or doing classwork, I mostly play Dungeons and Dragons and try to be politically active.”
Schultz’ mother, Lynn Schultz, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that her son, who preferred to be referred to by the pronoun “they,” had suffered from depression and attempted suicide two years ago. The Washington Post also notes that Schultz spent time in counseling following the incident.
On Saturday night, police responded to a 911 call reporting that someone at Georgia Tech was holding “a knife and gun.” The Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) now reports that it was Schultz himself who made the call. It identified Schultz as Scott Schultz.
“It has been determined that Schultz made the 911 call to Georgia Tech Police alerting them of a suspicious person on campus,” it said in a statement on Monday. “In the call, Schultz describes the person as a white male, with long blonde hair, white t-shirt and blue jeans who is possibly intoxicated, holding a knife and possibly armed with a gun on his hip.”
Officers arrived to find Schultz outside the dormitory area with a small multi-tool knife, but no gun is seen in video footage recorded by others observing the situation.
Schultz was then ordered repeatedly to drop the knife.
“Come on, man. Let’s drop the knife,” an officer called out, holding his gun toward Schultz.
“Shoot me!” Schultz called out.
Police officers backed up, advising that “[n]obody wants to hurt you” and asking “[w]hat’s going on,” but Schultz continued to take steps forward.
“Do not move,” one officer ordered, asking Schultz for his name.
However, as Schultz continued walking toward an officer without dropping the knife as commanded, the officer shot Schultz, who screamed out in pain as he lay on the ground.
He was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Schultz’ parents have now obtained a civil rights attorney as they believe that non-lethal force should have been used, such as a taser.
“I think [Schultz] was having a mental breakdown and didn’t know what to do,” attorney Chris Stewart told reporters. “People have breakdowns sometimes; that doesn’t mean they deserve to die.”
He contended that Schultz was not attempting “suicide by cop,” but the GBI reports that three suicide notes were found in Schultz’ dormitory room.
“The GBI will continue its independent investigation to determine what occurred during the incident,” it said. “When the investigation is complete, it will be turned over to the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office for review.”