New protests rock Charlotte
Man wounded as N.C. officials try to quell unrest
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Authorities tried to quell public anger and correct what they characterized as false information Wednesday as Charlotte dealt with a second night of violent protests, adding itself to the list of U.S. cities,, including Baltimore, that have erupted in violence over the death of a black man at the hands of police.
One man was shot and critically injured as protesters gathered near police in riot gear at a downtown hotel Wednesday night.
The man was not shot by a police officer, the city said on Twitter.
A short time later, police began firing flash grenades at protesters who were throwing fireworks at them. They then fired tear gas at the hundreds of protesters, dispersing most of the crowd.
With officials refusing to release video of the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, two
different versions emerged: Police say Scott, 43, disregarded repeated demands to drop his gun, while neighborhood residents say he was holding a book, not a weapon, as he waited for his son to get off a school bus.
The killing inflamed racial tensions in a city that seemed to have steered clear of the troubles that engulfed other places.
On Wednesday night, a prayer vigil over the shooting turned into a protest march through downtown.
Hundreds of marchers shouted slogans like “Hands up; don’t shoot” and “Black lives matter” outside downtown landmarks.
Gatherings remained peaceful until protesters blocked an intersection.
Protesters rushed police, and officers fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.
The scene was also violent Tuesday. Dozens of demonstrators threw rocks at police and reporters, damaged squad cars, closed part of Interstate 85, and looted and set on fire a stopped truck.
Authorities also used tear gas to break up the protests. Sixteen officers suffered minor injuries. One person was arrested.
The violence Tuesday broke out shortly after a woman who appeared to be Scott’s daughter posted a profanity-laced video on Facebook, saying her father had an unspecified disability and was unarmed.
In the footage, she is at the cordoned-off shooting scene, yelling at officers.
“My daddy is dead!” the woman screams on the video, which has not been authenticated by the Associated Press.
On Wednesday, as Charlotte’s white mayor and black police chief stood at City Hall and appealed for calm, AfricanAmerican leaders who said they were speaking for Scott’s family held their own news conference near where he was killed Tuesday, reminding the crowd of other shootings and abuses of black men.
John Barnett, who runs a civil rights group called True Healing Under God, or THUG, warned that the video might be the only way for the police to regain the community’s trust.
“Just telling us this is still under investigation is not good enough,” he said.
But Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney said: “It’s time to change the narrative, because I can tell you from the facts that the story’s a little bit different as to how it’s been portrayed so far, especially through social media.”
The police chief said officers were serving arrest warrants on another person when they saw Scott get out of a vehicle with a handgun.
A black plainclothes officer in a vest emblazoned with the word “Police” shot Scott after the officer and other uniformed members of the force made “loud, clear” demands that he drop the gun, Putney said.
Putney was adamant that Scott posed a threat, even if he didn’t point his weapon at officers, and said a gun was found next to the dead man.
“I can tell you we did not find a book,” the chief said.
Neighbors, though, said that the officer who fired was white and that Scott had his hands in the air.
The three uniformed officers had body cameras; the plainclothes officer did not, police said.
But the chief said he cannot release the video because the investigation is still underway.
No cellphone video has emerged on social media, as happened in other cases around the country.
The plainclothes officer, identified as Brently Vinson, a two-year member of the department, has been placed on leave, which is standard police procedure in such cases.
Scott’s mother described her son as a family man.
“And he was a likable person. And he loved his wife and his children,” Vernita Walker told The Charlotte Observer.
Scott has a criminal record, including convictions in North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.
Texas records showed he was convicted of evading arrest with a vehicle in 2005, and several months later, of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Protesters confront bicycle officers along Trade Street in Charlotte, N.C., during the second day of protests over the shooting of a black man by a white police officer.
A protester stares at riot police during a demonstration against police after the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
Protesters march behind a bicycle officer along Trade Street in Charlotte on Wednesday, the second day of violent protests.