Less than a week after Terence Crutcher was fatally shot in Oklahoma by police, officers in Charlotte, North Carolina killed a black man while on call for another incident.
Officers stated that 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott was armed and posed a threat to police safety. During a news conference held on Wednesday, September 21, Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney said that Scott exited his vehicle while armed, ignoring officers’ orders to drop his weapon. Officers then witnessed Scott re-enter and re-exit his car, still holding his gun. This prompted Officer Brentley Vinson to shoot Scott.
Officers immediately called for medical attention and performed CPR on Scott. Like so many who find themselves in need of immediate medical care — emergency room visits hover around 110 million each year — Scott was taken to the hospital, but later died there. His death marks the sixth civilian killing at the hands of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police in the past year.
Although both the victim and officer in this case were black, the shooting has incited violent riots to protest police violence. Members of the press and more than a dozen officers were injured by the bottles and rocks thrown by protesters. Marked police patrol cruisers were also destroyed.
Protesters later moved over to 1-85 overnight, where they blocked traffic and threw rocks at car windshields. Demonstrators also allegedly stole cargo from a truck carrying auto parts and set a fire on the interstate. Some drivers feared for their lives.
Protesters dispersed from the highway once police moved in with flash grenades, but a smaller group broke into a Walmart store. The Mayor of Charlotte, Jennifer Roberts, urged residents via Twitter to remain calm and assured them that she wants answers, especially in regards to the differing reports from police officers and witnesses on the scene of Scott’s shooting.
Witnesses to the incident, including Scott’s family, stated that the shooting was unprovoked. Although police insist Scott was armed — and recovered a handgun from the scene — bystanders say that Scott had a disability and was holding a book while waiting for his son. No book was recovered from the scene.
Lyric Scott, daughter of the victim, captured the shooting’s aftermath using Facebook’s live-streaming feature. She and other bystanders could be heard yelling that Scott was not armed and was disabled.
Charlotte police officers began wearing body cameras a year ago. Chief Putney stated that the footage from these cameras would not be released until the Scott investigation has been completed. Although it’s in its preliminary stages, the criminal investigative bureau and internal affairs have become involved in the investigation, and Vinson was put on paid leave for its duration.
Although the Charlotte PD has been cleared of the five other fatal civilian shootings this year, the community is fed up with the perceived police violence. One can only hope that Mayor Roberts’s tweet that “the community deserves answers and [a] full investigation will ensue” will pan out.