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NY Times, Sept. 21 2016
Protests Erupt in Charlotte After Police Kill a Black Man
By ALAN BLINDER
About 16 police officers in Charlotte, N.C., were injured when a
standoff between law enforcement and demonstrators turned ugly overnight
after an officer fatally shot a black man on Tuesday afternoon.
Protesters clashed with police officers in riot gear and blocked a
stretch of Interstate 85. Video from local television early Wednesday
showed some demonstrators looting trucks that had been stopped on the
highway and setting fire to the cargo.
Police Chief Kerr Putney said during a news conference on Wednesday
morning that the officers had sustained minor injuries and that one
person had been arrested during the protests, which began in the
University City neighborhood in northeast Charlotte, near the campus of
the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
WSOC-TV reported that looters later moved off the highway and tried to
break into a Walmart before officers arrived in force to keep them out,
and at least one family driving on Interstate 85 reported that their
windshield had been shattered by demonstrators throwing rocks.
Mayor Jennifer Roberts urged calm in a series of Twitter messages and
promised a thorough investigation into the shooting death of Keith L.
“The community deserves answers and full investigation will ensue,” Ms.
Roberts said. “Will be reaching out to community leaders to work together.”
The shooting occurred just before 4 p.m. on Tuesday as officers were
trying to serve an arrest warrant for another person in an apartment
Police officials said the officer opened fire because Mr. Scott, who
they said was armed with a gun, “posed an imminent deadly threat.”
Although their accounts sometimes diverged, members of Mr. Scott’s
family generally told local news outlets that he had not had a weapon.
Instead, they said, he had been clutching a book while waiting to pick
up a child after school.
The shooting revived scrutiny of a police department that drew national
attention about three years ago when a white officer was quickly charged
with voluntary manslaughter after he killed Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed
The shooting in Charlotte this week was the latest in a string of deaths
of black people at the hands of the police that have stoked outrage
around the country. It came just a few days after a white police officer
in Tulsa, Okla., fatally shot Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man,
who could be seen on video raising his hands above his head. The
encounters, many of them at least partly caught on video, have led to
intense debate about race relations and law enforcement.
In Charlotte, dozens of chanting demonstrators, some of them holding
signs, began gathering near the site of the shooting on Tuesday evening.
Around 10 p.m., the Police Department said on Twitter that it had sent
its civil emergency unit to the scene “to safely remove our officers.”
“Demonstrators surrounded our officers who were attempting to leave
scene,” the department said. It identified the officer who fired his
weapon as Brentley Vinson, an employee since July 2014. Officer Vinson
is black, according to local reports.
According to the department, officers saw Mr. Scott leave a vehicle with
a weapon soon after they arrived at the apartment complex.
“Officers observed the subject get back into the vehicle, at which time
they began to approach the subject,” the department said in its first
statement about the shooting. “The subject 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.”
A police spokesman did not respond to an after-hours inquiry about
whether a dashboard or body camera had recorded the shooting. Chief
Putney had acknowledged that Mr. Scott had not been the subject of the
On Facebook, a woman who identified herself as Mr. Scott’s daughter said
that the police had fired without provocation.
“The police just shot my daddy four times for being black,” the woman
said moments into a Facebook Live broadcast that lasted about an hour.
Later in the broadcast, she learned that her father had died and
speculated that the police were planting evidence. (The police said that
investigators had recovered a weapon.)
In September 2013, officials charged a Charlotte police officer with
voluntary manslaughter after he fired a dozen rounds at an unarmed black
man, killing him. The criminal case against the officer, Randall
Kerrick, ended in a mistrial, and the authorities did not seek to try
The department, which said on Tuesday that Officer Vinson had been
placed on administrative leave, said it was conducting “an active and
ongoing investigation” into the killing of Mr. Scott.
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