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 theviolence.
Media reported that several hundred people gathered to protest the shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, who was African-American, as was the officer who killed him. The shooting was the latest in a string involving black men killed at the hands of police, which has fueled outrage nationwide.
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 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.
A local television station reported that looters attempted to break into a Walmart store — some throwing rocks and shattering glass doors — and were held back at the entrance by officers.
– 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, an investigation parallel to the one local authorities in the state are carrying out.
“It’s just continuation of the same thing, over and over and over again,” Crutcher’s father, Joey Crutcher, told CNN Wednesday morning in the immediate aftermath of the Charlotte protests. “And it’s perpetuated against people of color more than anything else.”