Tuesday, In Charlotte, North Carolina, police fatally shot a black man they said was armed as they searched for someone else, sparking violent protests that injured more than 12 officers. Witnesses said the man who was killed, Keith Lamont Scott, 43, was unarmed.
According to Kim Bellware of The Huffington Post, The shooting ― the sixth Charlotte-Mecklenburg police killing of a civilian in the past year ― happened just before 4 p.m. at an apartment complex roughly a mile from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers were searching at the complex for someone else who was wanted on an outstanding warrant, police said in a statement.
According to officers, they saw a man exit a vehicle with a firearm, then get back inside. When police approached, the man got out of the vehicle again and “posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers who subsequently fired their weapon striking the subject,” according to the police statement.
Police said they called a medic and administered CPR, but Scott died at the hospital.
Officer Brentley Vinson, a black officer who has worked for the department since July 2014, was identified as the shooter.
Witnesses say that after the unarmed man was shot by police, hundreds of people converged at the shooting scene, chanting anthems that decried police violence.
More than a dozen officers and several members of the press were injured. Police blamed “agitators” who joined the protesters for destroying marked patrol cruisers. Police said Civil Emergency Unit vehicles were sent to remove officers whose vehicles had been surrounded by protesters.
Overnight, the protesters moved onto I-85, blocked traffic and threw rocks at passing vehicles.
The demonstrators also set a fire on the interstate after allegedly stealing cargo from a truck that was carrying auto parts. The unidentified driver said she feared for her life.
“I understand they want to make a statement, but they are hurting innocent people trying to make a living,” the driver said.
Once the police moved in and cleared the demonstrators from the highway with flash grenades, the protesters dispersed, Reuters reported. A group of protesters then broke into a Walmart store.
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, who was reportedly “monitoring the situation closely,” took to Twitter to urge for calm.
“The community deserves answers and (a) full investigation will ensue,” she said on Twitter, adding in a subsequent post, “I want answers too.”
A woman saying she was Scott’s daughter captured the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live. She and other witnesses said Scott had a disability and did not have a gun. She also said, “The police just shot my daddy four times for being black.”
Bellware says, “The Huffington Post couldn’t independently verify the video and was unable to reach the woman. Her Facebook page was later disabled, but a version of the video remained viewable on YouTube (warning: strong language).”
Police didn’t say how many shots were fired.
This is the sixth time in the past year that Charlotte-Mecklenburg officers have been involved in a fatal shooting of a civilian. The district attorney said police were justified in the five previous killings.
All of the department’s officers began wearing body cameras a year ago, but three of four fatal shootings that happened from September 2015 to May 2016 mysteriously were NOT captured on cameras. Whether or not the June 3 fatal shooting was caught on the body camera is unknown.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s tactical and SWAT units do not wear body cameras.
Police Chief Kerr Putney said the investigation is still preliminary and said both the criminal investigative bureau and internal affairs are involved. Vinson is on paid vacation while the investigation is underway.
While it is great that so many people showed up to try to get justice for this unarmed man being killed; destroying personal property and scaring other innocent people is not the way to protest against the police. Hopefully we will see more meaningful protests against police if that is what is needed to get a fair investigation and reform to the system that allows unarmed people to be shot.
(Article by Jeremiah Jones; image via Shutter Anthem Photography)