Protests erupted late Tuesday in Charlotte, North Carolina after police officer fatally shot a black man while attempting to serve a warrant on a separate individual. The demonstrators clashed with police in riot gear, several people were injured, and five protesters were ultimately arrested, the New York Times reports.
The Los Angeles Times writes that tear gas was used by police, about a dozen police officers were hurt, and a highway was eventually shut down as the demonstrations continued into early Wednesday.
Police, according to reports, say that 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott was armed and “posed an imminent deadly threat” before he was fatally shot Tuesday afternoon by Charlotte-Mecklenburg officer Brentley Vinson, who is also black. Scott’s family disputes the police account, saying that he was disabled, unarmed, and reading a book in his car when he was shot.
The Guardian described the contradictory accounts surrounding Scott’s death:
Police said officers went to a Charlotte apartment complex around 4pm looking for a suspect with an outstanding warrant when they encountered Scott, who was not the suspect they were looking for, inside a car.
According to department spokesman Keith Trietley, officers saw the man get out the car with a gun and then get back in. When officers approached the car, the man got out of the car with the gun again. At that point, officers deemed the man a threat and at least one fired a weapon, he said. A weapon was recovered by detectives at the scene.
According to police, officers immediately began rendering aid after the shots were fired. Scott, a father of seven, was pronounced dead at Carolinas Medical Center.
The police version is at odds with that of Scott’s family who have insisted that he was disabled, sitting in his car reading a book, and had no gun. “He sits in the shade, reads his book and waits on his kid to get off the bus,” Scott’s sister told reporters. “He didn’t have no gun, he wasn’t messing with nobody.”
“As protests swelled on Tuesday night, police used tear gas in an attempt to disperse crowds heard yelling ‘Black lives matter,’ and ‘Hands up, don’t shoot!’ One person held up a sign saying ‘Stop killing us’; another sign said: ‘It was a book,'” the Guardian adds.
“In statements the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department distinguished between ‘agitators’ and ‘demonstrators,’ blaming the former for damaging police vehicles and causing injuries to at least a dozen officers. One officer was reportedly struck in the face with a rocks,” notes the Guardian.
The Los Angeles Times reports that “Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts appealed for calm and tweeted that ‘the community deserves answers.'”
The fatal police shooting in Charlotte came only a few days after police in Tulsa, Oklahoma,shot and killed an unarmed black man, at a moment when the Movement for Black Liveshas created a national debate on police brutality that activists say disproportionately targets black communities.
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