Story highlights

Officer Brentley Vinson has been on the force for two years

Former football teammates and coaches are defending him

CNN  — 

As protests grow over a police shooting in Charlotte, North Carolina, details are emerging about the officer who fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott.

Here’s what we’ve learned so far about Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Brentley Vinson:

He’s been on the force for two years

Vinson has worked for the department, which serves the city of Charlotte and surrounding Mecklenburg County, for two years. Now he’s on paid administrative leave while authorities investigate the shooting.

A friend says he’s ‘distraught’ after the shooting

A friend of the officer, Michael Scurlock, told CNN that Vinson was distraught when the two spoke about the shooting.

“No matter if it’s justified or unjustified, it’s tough when you have to know that you had to take someone else’s life,” Scurlock said.

His father was a police officer in Charlotte, too

As a kid, Vinson dreamed of becoming a police officer and following in his father’s footsteps, his former middle school football coach told The Charlotte Observer.

“I thought when he became a police officer like his dad that it was a perfect fit for him,” Larry Kennedy told the newspaper.

CNN briefly spoke to Vinson’s father, Alex Vinson, who’s now retired from the force. He asked for privacy and said no one in the family would be speaking to the media.

People who knew him on the football field are defending him

Vinson was a “standup guy” when he played football at Liberty University, teammate Austin Marsh told CNN.

“Brent has always been a great guy founded on good morals,” Marsh said. “I find it very hard to believe that he would gun down an innocent man.”

Vinson played football at Liberty University from 2009-2012 and majored in criminal justice, according to his biography on the school’s website.

Another former Liberty teammate, who asked to remain anonymous because he feared backlash from protesters, told CNN that Vinson used to help organize the team’s weekly Bible studies.

Several of the officer’s former coaches are also defending him.

“I’ve watched this kid work his butt off from an early age. … He’s a phenomenal kid and happens to be in an unfortunate situation right now, and I hate to see him be in the middle of it and being vilified the way he is,” Kennedy, who’s now an assistant football coach at South Mecklenburg High School, told the Charlotte Observer.

Adam Hastings, who coached him in high school, told the Observer that Vinson is a natural leader who always puts the best interests of others first.

“We need more Brett Vinsons, that type of person, in our communities,” he said.

CNN’s Ed Lavandera, Boris Sanchez, Steve Almasy, Madison Park, Faith Karimi , Euan McKirdy, Judy Kwon, Reed Alexander and Yazhou Sun contributed to this report.