The Crusader Newspaper Group

Protests erupt in Charlotte after police kill a Black man

By Alan Blinder,

About 16 police officers in Charlotte, N.C., were injured when a standoff between law enforcement and demonstrators turned ugly overnight after an officer fatally shot a black man on Tuesday afternoon.

Protesters clashed with police officers in riot gear and blocked a stretch of Interstate 85. Video from local television early Wednesday showed some demonstrators looting trucks that had been stopped on the highway and setting fire to the cargo.

Police Chief Kerr Putney said during a news conference on Wednesday morning that the officers had sustained minor injuries and that one person had been arrested during the protests, which began in the University City neighborhood in northeast Charlotte, near the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

WSOC-TV reported that looters later moved off the highway and tried to break into a Walmart before officers arrived in force to keep them out, and at least one family driving on Interstate 85 reported that their windshield had been shattered by demonstrators throwing rocks.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts urged calm in a series of Twitter messages and promised a thorough investigation into the shooting death of Keith L. Scott, 43.

“The community deserves answers and full investigation will ensue,” Ms. Roberts said. “Will be reaching out to community leaders to work together.”

The shooting occurred just before 4 p.m. on Tuesday as officers were trying to serve an arrest warrant for another person in an apartment complex.

Police officials said the officer opened fire because Mr. Scott, who they said was armed with a gun, “posed an imminent deadly threat.”

Although their accounts sometimes diverged, members of Mr. Scott’s family generally told local news outlets that he had not had a weapon. Instead, they said, he had been clutching a book while waiting to pick up a child after school.

The shooting revived scrutiny of a police department that drew national attention about three years ago when a white officer was quickly charged with voluntary manslaughter after he killed Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed black man.

The shooting in Charlotte this week was the latest in a string of deaths of black people at the hands of the police that have stoked outrage around the country. It came just a few days after a white police officer in Tulsa, Okla., fatally shot Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, who could be seen on video raising his hands above his head. The encounters, many of them at least partly caught on video, have led to intense debate about race relations and law enforcement.

In Charlotte, dozens of chanting demonstrators, some of them holding signs, began gathering near the site of the shooting on Tuesday evening. Around 10 p.m., the Police Department said on Twitter that it had sent its civil emergency unit to the scene “to safely remove our officers.”

“Demonstrators surrounded our officers who were attempting to leave scene,” the department said. It identified the officer who fired his weapon as Brentley Vinson, an employee since July 2014. Officer Vinson is black, according to local reports.

According to the department, officers saw Mr. Scott leave a vehicle with a weapon soon after they arrived at the apartment complex.

“Officers observed the subject get back into the vehicle, at which time they began to approach the subject,” the department said in its first statement about the shooting. “The subject got back out of the vehicle armed with a firearm and posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers, who subsequently fired their weapon, striking the subject.”

A police spokesman did not respond to an after-hours inquiry about whether a dashboard or body camera had recorded the shooting. Chief Putney had acknowledged that Mr. Scott had not been the subject of the outstanding warrant.


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