CHARLOTTE, N.C. —The Charlotte police chief says officers gave a black man clear, multiple warnings to drop a handgun before fatally shooting him.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said during a news conference Wednesday morning that officers were searching for a suspect Tuesday when they saw 43-year-old Keith Lamont 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.
“It’s time to change the narrative, because I can tell you from the facts that the story’s a little bit different as to how it’s been portrayed so far, especially through social media,” he said.
His comments were an apparent reference to a profanity-laced, hourlong video that a woman claiming to be Scott’s daughter posted to Facebook soon after the shooting, saying that her father had an unspecified disability and was unarmed. In it, she appears to be at the shooting scene, which is surrounded by yellow police tape, as she yells at officers.
The woman did not respond to Facebook messages, and her claims could not immediately be verified by The Associated Press. It also was not clear if she witnessed the shooting.
The family plans a news conference later Wednesday in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred.
The black officer who shot Scott has been placed on administrative leave as is standard procedure in such cases. Officer Brently Vinson has been with the department for two years.
Protests broke out Tuesday night after the shooting at an apartment complex on the city’s northeast side. Authorities used tear gas to disperse protesters in an overnight demonstration that left about a dozen officers injured in North Carolina’s largest city and shut down part of a highway.
The protests continued into early Wednesday morning, when TV footage showed dozens of protesters on Interstate 85 apparently looting semi-trucks and setting their contents on fire on the highway.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department tweeted that demonstrators were destroying marked police vehicles and that approximately 12 officers had been injured, including one who was hit in the face with a rock. Photos and TV video showed police firing tear gas to break up the crowd. Some officers were in riot gear.
By 5 a.m. Wednesday, the streets were quiet with no protesters in sight and I-85 was moving again. Broken glass and rocks littered the ground where a police car had been vandalized. Less than 5 miles away, wooden pallets barricaded the entrance of a Wal-Mart that had apparently been looted.
The unrest in Charlotte came just hours after another demonstration in Tulsa, Oklahoma, over the shooting there of an unarmed black man by police.
Charlotte police officers went to the complex about 4 p.m. looking for a suspect with an outstanding warrant when they saw Scott—who was not the suspect they were looking for—inside a car, department spokesman Keith Trietley said in a statement.
Officers say they saw Scott get out of the car with a gun and then get back in, Trietley said. When officers approached, the man exited the car with the gun again. At that point, officers deemed the man a threat and at least one fired a weapon, he said.
Scott was taken to Carolinas Medical Center and pronounced dead.
Detectives recovered a gun at the scene and were interviewing witnesses, Trietley said.
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts appealed for calm and tweeted that “the community deserves answers.”
In Tulsa, hundreds of people rallied outside police headquarters calling for the firing of police officer Betty Shelby, who shot 40-year-old Terence Crutcher on Friday during a confrontation in the middle of a road that was captured on police dashcam and helicopter video.
Shelby’s attorney has said Crutcher was not following the officers’ commands and that Shelby was concerned because he kept reaching for his pocket as if he were carrying a weapon. An attorney representing Crutcher’s family says Crutcher committed no crime and gave officers no reason to shoot him.
Local and federal investigations into that shooting are ongoing.