The fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, 43, in Charlotte, North Carolina, by a police officer yesterday (September 20) has prompted major protests.
The Charlotte Observer reported yesterday that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) Officer Brentley Vinson shot Scott while police were executing a search warrant for a different man in the University City neighborhood. CMPD officials said in a statement that while officers were executing that search warrant in a nearby apartment complex, Scott exited a vehicle with a firearm, then got back into the car. Officers then approached the vehicle, at which time they say Scott got out again, holding the firearm.
The CMPD’s account of the events goes on to say that Scott "posed an immediate deadly threat to the officers who subsequently fired their weapon." Scott was then given CPR; he was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Detectives say they found a gun at the scene. Both Scott and Vinson are Black men.
CMPD Chief Kerr Putney doubled down on that statement in a press conference this today, saying that Scott ignored multiple calls from officers to drop his weapon. He also said that the involved officer was in plain clothes and was accompanied by uniformed officers, that officers are still gathering evidence and that Vinson has been placed on paid administrative leave.
Members of Scott’s family, however, offer a different narrative. Someone with the Facebook handle "Lyric YourAdorable Scott" who identified herself as Scott’s daughter shared a now-viral hour-long Facebook Live video (above) from the shooting scene. She says in the video that police shot her father "four times for being Black" after initially Tasing him. She also says that Scott was disabled and that he was waiting in his car for the school bus to drop off his son, unarmed and reading a book.
Scott’s brother and sister spoke to reporters at the the scene. The two videos below show them both saying that the officers were undercover. His sister also says that he was unarmed.
The brother of the victim in the officer-involved shooting says that the cops were undercover. pic.twitter.com/PBrDwkjEdm #Charlotte
— Beatrice E. Peterson (@MissBeaE) September 21, 2016
Here’s the man’s sister. She says he did not have a gun. @CMPD says he did. @WBTV_News pic.twitter.com/JwHMixy9m7
— Sarah-Blake Morgan (@SarahBlakeWBTV) September 20, 2016
Members of Scott’s family stood with community activists at a press conference earlier today, with an activist from local group True Healing Under God advocating for a citywide boycott. "Since Black lives do not matter in this city, then our Black dollar shouldn’t matter," the activist said.
Police moving crowd down the road. #charlotte #cmpd pic.twitter.com/Ny8cBEbP1V
— Adam Rhew (@AdamRhew) September 21, 2016
#Charlotte #cmpd pic.twitter.com/LJVfhRcgUc
— Adam Rhew (@AdamRhew) September 21, 2016
Video of melee earlier tonight. pic.twitter.com/w6EJVpg6NC
— Mike Hanson (@MikeWCNC) September 21, 2016
Protesters gathered near the crime scene shortly after the shooting. The rapidly growing crowd was policed by officers in riot gear. The Charlotte Observer reported that while some people threw rocks and water bottles at police lines, many demonstrators peacefully held signs reading "Black Lives Matter" and "Stop Killing Us."
Around 11 p.m. ET, police put on gas masks and lobbed tear gas cannisters at the crowd. Violent clashes ensued, with 16 officers sustaining minor injuries and at least two police vehicles damaged. Local station WSOC reported overnight that 11 civilians were treated at local hospitals and five people were arrested.
Protesters also blocked Interstate 85 early this morning, with some reports of damage to cars, a fire set in the middle of the highway and looting at a nearby Walmart. Police say that one demonstrator was arrested at the highway protest.
During a press conference this morning, Charlotte mayor Jennifer Roberts called for peace and expressed sympathy for Scott’s family and injured officers. She also said there will be an investigation into the shooting, but she did not specify what bodies would be conducting it. The Observer reports that both the department and CMPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau will conduct parallel investigations.
(H/t ABC News/The Associated Press, The Charlotte Observer, Heavy.com, WCCB, Wave 3 News, ABC News, CNN)