Anger boiled over into rage last night as protestors in Charlotte, North Carolina turned violent following the shooting death of an African-American man by police. 16 officers were injured, and there were reports of looting and rock throwing as people reacted to the killing of Keith Lamont Scott, 43, who was shot by police after they claim they saw him brandish a weapon, an allegation Scott's family contests. His death comes days after the killing of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, who was shot by police in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after his car broke down.
Police were serving a warrant Tuesday afternoon on a suspect that lived in the same apartment complex as Scott when they say they saw him exit a vehicle with a handgun. According to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief Kerr Putney, “Officers were giving loud, clear verbal commands. The suspect exited the vehicle with a handgun, threatening officers.” It was then that officer Brentley Vinson shot him to death. A gun was retrieved at the scene. However, Scott’s family dispute this version, saying he was unarmed at the time and was only holding a book. Chief Putney said Wednesday morning at a press conference, “We did not find a book.”
As word spread throughout the community Tuesday evening, protests sprouted up near the University of North Carolina at Charlotte campus. Angered by the ongoing tensions between law enforcement and the African-American community and the rash of police shootings of black men caught on video this year, demonstrators held signs that said “It Was A Book,” and “Black Lives Matter,” and chanted the refrain “No Justice, No Peace.” At some point in the night, frustration led some to aggressively surround the police, who responded with tear gas. Protestors blocked traffic and some looted parked trucks, setting their cargo on fire. The chaos lasted late into the night.
Keith Scott’s mother, Vernita Walker, said her son was a family man, with seven children. Charlotte mayor Mayor Jennifer Roberts urged calm and said, “The community deserves answers and full investigation will ensue.” Officer Vinson has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
[Photo: Getty Images]