Charlotte protests: State of emergency declared, curfew in effect after violent clashes

Posted at 8:42 AM, Sep 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-22 21:49:30-04

The family of Keith Lamont Scott has requested to see the video of his shooting, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney says he hopes to accommodate that. However, he has no intention to release the video “to the masses,” he said, adding it would be inappropriate to present footage of “a victim’s worst day” for public consumption. He further said the video would not provide “definitive visual evidence” that Lamont pointed a gun at police officers, but other evidence and witness accounts support that claim.

Scott’s shooting Tuesday afternoon set off violent protests, which continued Wednesday night. One civilian was shot to death, and many others were injured in the unrest overnight.

44 people were also arrested for crimes including failure to disperse, assault and breaking and entering, Putney said.


After violent protests raged for the second night in Charlotte over the police shooting of a black man, one big question remains: Why hasn’t police footage been released?

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts told CNN she will review the footage Thursday. She said the police department has both dashcam and body camera footage of the Keith Lamont Scott shooting.

But Officer Brentley Vinson — the black officer who shot Scott — was not wearing a body camera, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Chief Kerr Putney said.

It’s still not clear if or when the videos will be released.

Todd Walther, spokesman for the Charlotte Fraternal Order of Police, said he will support the chief’s and the city’s decision either way.

While the videos’ release could answer some questions, Walther said, “You’re still going to have that entity that’s going to pick the video apart and put it out there that this was done wrong, or that was done wrong,” he told CNN’s “New Day” on Thursday. “The clear facts will come out, and the truth will come out.”

North Carolina recently passed a law that blocks the release of police recordings from body or dashboard cameras with limited exceptions. But that law is not set to take effect until October.

“Technology like dashboard cameras and body cameras can be very helpful, but when used by itself technology can also mislead and misinform, which causes other issues and problems within our community,” Gov. Pat McCrory said after signing the bill into law in July.

What does the footage show?

Walther, the police union spokesman, said he has watched the dashcam footage and did not believe police did anything wrong in the video.

Walther said Scott was sitting in a vehicle when police first encountered him at a Charlotte apartment complex. Officers were looking for another man in the complex to serve a warrant.

“He was seated in (the car) when he was approached, but when he exited that vehicle, he was given clear commands to drop the weapon — and he did not do that,” Walther said. “So he was armed when he came out of that vehicle and refused to listen to officers.”

Walther said while some of the officers were wearing plain clothes, they still had vests or jackets that said “police” on the front and back.

“There was no mistaking of who they were,” he said.

Answers demanded

But the perceived lack of transparency has fueled widespread anger in Charlotte. What started as peaceful protests devolved into violence again overnight.

The chaos prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts has also signed an order Thursday night enacting a curfew for the city.

The curfew goes into effect at midnight and extends until 6 a.m. ET. “The curfew will be in effect each day until the end of the State of Emergency is declared or until the official proclamation is revoked,” the city tweeted.

One man was shot to death Wednesday night by another civilian during the unrest.

At least four officers suffered injuries not considered life-threatening during Wednesday night’s protests, police said.

The governor said he would deploy the state National Guard and Highway Patrol to Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city.

“We cannot tolerate violence. We cannot tolerate the destruction of property and will not tolerate the attacks against our police officers that is occurring right now,” McCrory told CNN on Wednesday night.

The mayor told CNN she would consider options such as a curfew if the protests continue.

The Charlotte case is the latest in a series of controversial shootings of black men by police.

‘It was madness’

Some protesters overturned trash cans and set the contents on fire Wednesday night.

Onlookers cheered as a masked man shattered a hotel window while another one hurled rocks through it. Others spray-painted “Black Lives Matter” on business windows and smashed car windows.

“I was right in the thick of it,” witness Zach Locke said. “People found whatever objects they could to break glasses. It was madness.”

Some stores were looted, including the Charlotte Hornets’ NBA store, local media reported.

Freelance photographer Marcus DiPaola told CNN he saw some people knock over an ATM and grab money from it.

The Hyatt House Hotel downtown went into lockdown as protesters tossed bricks through the window. A valet and front desk attendant were punched in the face by protesters, hotel manager Matt Allen told CNN.

Not all the protests were violent.

Witnesses who attended demonstrations earlier Wednesday evening said they were largely peaceful, but the tone changed markedly throughout the night.

Kristine Slade, 19, a University of North Carolina at Charlotte student, joined the protests Tuesday night, kneeling in front of a police line with her hands up in the air. She said she felt like she had to protest, because “if nobody else is going to do it, then we’re still going to be in the same position.”

But she became increasingly worried Wednesday night as she saw rocks being thrown, fires being set and acts of vandalism committed.

“It hurts us to see that these buildings are being vandalized and damaged because of the anger and outrage of other citizens when there are clearly other ways to get our point across,” Slade said.

She said she left early when police tried to disperse the crowd.

Protesters started to break up after police fired tear gas before 11 p.m. ET.

The shooting

The second day of protests broke out after the police chief gave more details about Scott’s fatal shooting Tuesday afternoon.

Scott’s family has said he was reading a book in his vehicle when police officers approached and shot him. But Putney, the police chief, said Scott was armed and no book was found at the scene.

Moments after her father was shot, Lyric Scott started recording on Facebook Live, screaming at officers on the scene.

“They shot my daddy ’cause he’s black,” she said. “He was sitting in his car reading a mother******* book. So they shot him. That’s what happened.”

Putney said the officer shot Scott after he refused repeated demands to put down a gun. The chief said the gun was recovered at the scene.

He said evidence and witnesses support the officers’ assertion that Scott was armed.

“It’s time for the voiceless majority to stand up and be heard,” said the police chief, who also is black.

“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.

Officers repeatedly told Scott to drop his handgun, the chief said, but he didn’t. The officer then shot him.

Tensions over police shootings

Just before the Charlotte case, the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, sparked protests after video of the killing was aired Monday.

Protesters across the country have been demanding justice and an end to police brutality for months.

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch acknowledged the country’s racial tensions after the latest police shootings but denounced the violence that erupted in Charlotte.

“Protest is protected by our Constitution and is a vital instrument for raising issues and creating change. But when it turns violent, it undermines the very justice that it seeks to achieve,” Lynch said.

Annette Albright, who attended the Charlotte protests, said those misbehaving need direction.

“We don’t have leadership that this crowd can relate to,” Albright said. “We know how to protest and have our voices heard in a civilized way, but who is going to teach the younger crowd? Church leaders need to get out there and tell these kids that this is not the right way.”

Journalists were not spared either. CNN’s Ed Lavandera was attacked by a protester while he was reporting live Wednesday night, as were local journalists.


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