Violent protests over fatal US police shooting of black man in North Carolina

  • AFP, Washington
  • Updated: Sep 21, 2016 18:14 IST
Protestors put cargo from tractor trailers onto a fire on I-85 (Interstate 85) during protests following the death of a man shot by a police officer September 21, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (AFP)

Protests and looting rocked a North Carolina city early Wednesday, following the fatal police shooting of a black man, with a dozen officers and several demonstrators injured in the violence.

Media reported that several hundred people gathered to protest the shooting of African American Keith Lamont Scott, 43, as was the officer who killed him.

Demonstrations began late Tuesday and grew through much of the night near an apartment complex in the city of Charlotte, where the shooting occurred.

As news of the shooting in Charlotte spread, protesters gathered, carrying signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and chanting “No justice, no peace!”

Later in the night, some protesters in Charlotte set fires blocking a major road, and others set trucks ablaze, according to news reports.

Series of shootings

The violence comes just days after another police shooting, captured on video, of an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Together, they are the latest in a series of recent police shootings -- from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Dallas, Texas -- that have left the African American community demanding law enforcement reforms and greater accountability from public officials.

News reports said the officer in Tuesday’s shooting, Brentley Vinson, has been put on paid leave.

WSOC-TV reported that the Charlotte shooting occurred as Vinson and other officers were searching for a suspect on an outstanding arrest warrant.

Police encountered Scott -- who was not the person they were seeking -- in a car parked at the building.

“At this point, all we know (is) they were in the apartment complex parking lot,” Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Chief Kerr Putney told reporters late Tuesday.

“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.”

Police said Scott had a firearm, which is legal under local law “open carry” gun laws. His relatives told local media, however, that he was not carrying a gun, but had a book in his hands when he was gunned down.

Charlotte police donned riot gear and used tear gas as they tried to subdue the angry crowd, which authorities said attacked and damaged several police cars over the course of the night.

The police department said on Twitter that “approximately 12 officers injured. One officer hit in face with a rock.”

A separate police department tweet said the wounded officers were “injured tonight working to protect our community during demonstration.”

Appeal for calm

Meanwhile, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts appealed for calm.

“The community deserves answers and full investigation will ensue,” she wrote on Twitter. “Will be reaching out to community leaders to work together.”

The fatal shooting in Tulsa last Friday of Terence Crutcher was recorded by police car dashboard cameras and a police helicopter camera.

Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan, in releasing the footage to the public Monday, called it disturbing and “very difficult to watch.”

In the video, the 40-year-old Crutcher is seen with his hands up, appearing to comply with police officers and leaning against his car.

He is then shot once by officer Betty Shelby, and falls to the ground. Another officer fires his stun gun.

“We will achieve justice in this case,” the Tulsa police chief told a news conference. “We will do the right thing. We will not cover anything up.”

The US Department of Justice said on Monday it would conduct a federal civil rights probe, a investigation parallel to the one local authorities in the state are carrying out.

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