“More than a thousand people” poured into the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina last night after police shot and killed a black man while searching for someone else. According to police, Keith Lamar Scott drew a weapon and then refused to comply with orders to surrender. According to his family, the father of seven children didn’t have a gun at all but only a book, which he was reading while waiting for his daughter to arrive on a school bus.
WBTV reporter Sarah-Blake Morgan reported that most of the protesters wanted to remain non-violent, but a few were “a little more agitated” over the shooting. By the time of this report last night, police had already used teargas on the crowd:
The shooting happened around 4 p.m. Tuesday at The Village at College Downs apartment complex on the 9600 block of Old Concord Road. Officers said they were searching for a person with an outstanding warrant when they saw a man get out of a vehicle with a firearm.
When the man, later identified as 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, got back into the vehicle, the officers approached. The report states Scott then 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.” …
Police said a firearm “the subject was holding at the time of the shooting” was recovered at the scene, and that detectives were interviewing witnesses to the incident.
“I don’t believe [the man shot] was the one with the warrants, but we don’t know if there was a connection,” CMPD Chief Kerr Putney told reporters. “At this point all we know they’re in the apartment complex parking lot and this subject gets out with a weapon, they engage him and one of the officers felt a lethal threat and fired his weapon because of that.”
In the video below, Scott’s sister had earlier insisted that he had no weapon at all, and that police Tasered him first before shooting him four times. Scott’s daughter also filmed a Facebook Live post with the same claims, and added that Scott was disabled:
— Sarah Blake Morgan (@StorytellerSBM) September 20, 2016
The New York Daily News reports that the police insist that more than one officer fired at Scott as he exited the vehicle, not while inside of it:
Investigators, however, said Officer Brentley Vison shot Scott after he emerged with a gun for a second time from a car parked at the complex in the University City area. Police said officers had spotted Scott getting out of the car wielding a firearm before returning to the vehicle.
The cops began walking toward Scott when he suddenly got back out, still carrying the firearm. Several officers then fired at him, police said.
Later, the crowds started setting fires from items taken from trucks on the interstate, which protesters blocked. Twelve police officers got injured during the protests overnight as well:
This is one case where both sides had better hope that the police wore body cameras. The two different versions are irreconcilable at the moment, which means that those invested in either side simply won’t buy the other’s narrative. While police have a difficult job and we would like to give them the benefit of the doubt, this story seems rather strange. Why would a father of seven waiting for his daughter to come home on the bus challenge police with a weapon when the police were looking for someone else entirely? How did that interaction start in the first place?
Like the Terence Crutcher case, we are left with a lot of questions, and not a lot of answers. We need to wait to see what the evidence demonstrates before jumping to conclusions, but one can understand the anger and frustration mounting in the meantime in these communities, even if one also agrees with the WBTV anchor that protests need to remain peaceful to ensure the safety of all.
Update: Police Chief Kerr Putney insists that his officers gave Scott warnings to drop the gun, which they recovered after the shooting:
MORE: 'We did find a weapon' at scene where Keith Scott was fatally shot in Charlotte – police chief. https://t.co/hqCWIfkyet
— Reuters U.S. News (@ReutersUS) September 21, 2016
The Charlotte police chief says officers gave 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott multiple warnings to drop a handgun before fatally shooting him.
Police Chief Kerr Putney said during a news conference Wednesday morning that officers were searching for a suspect Tuesday when they saw Scott exit a vehicle with a handgun. He says the officers told him to drop the gun and that he got out of the vehicle a second time still carrying the gun. He says the man was shot because he posed a threat.
Correction: The name of the other man shot by police is Terence Crutcher. I’ve fixed it above, and apologize for the error in the original post. Thanks to Craig S for the kind alert.