Man killed by cop had gun, not book – Charlotte police chief

Police gather around protestors following the fatal police shooting of a black man, with a dozen officers and several demonstrators injured in the violence on September 20, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. © Adam Rhew
Keith Lamont Scott had a gun and ignored officers’ requests to drop it, the Charlotte, North Carolina police chief said. Scott’s family insisted that he was unarmed and reading a book when he was shot by a plainclothes cop, setting off protests.

At least 16 police officers were injured in the protests that began after Scott, 43, was shot and killed outside an apartment block in Charlotte on Tuesday. Demonstrators threw rocks at police, broke into an area Walmart and briefly blocked Interstate 85, looting and setting fire to tractor-trailers, police said on Wednesday.

“It’s time for the voiceless majority to stand up and be heard," Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney told reporters at a press conference Wednesday morning. "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.”

Scott’s car was parked outside the apartment complex where police were looking for another man. When officers arrived, Scott “exited his vehicle armed with a handgun,” Putney said. He ignored “loud, clear verbal commands” to drop the weapon, at which point Officer Brentley Vinson opened fire.

Vinson – who, like Putney and Scott, is African-American – has been with the force since 2014. Since he was in plainclothes, he was not wearing a body camera. He was put on administrative leave pending the investigation, a standard police procedure in shootings.

Scott’s family has claimed that he was disabled and was only reading a book while waiting to pick up his son from school. His daughter Lyric recorded an hour-long Facebook Live reacting to the shooting, which has since been taken down. However, Putney said that police did not find a book in the car or on Scott, only the handgun.

The US Department of Justice said Wednesday it was “aware of” and “assessing” the shooting of Scott. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) held a press conference on Wednesday, where speakers denounced the “racist” police and called for an economic boycott of Charlotte. Mayor Jennifer Roberts appealed for calm and patience as the case was investigated.

READ MORE: #TerenceCrutcher shot by police despite being unarmed & having hands in air (GRAPHIC VIDEO)

Scott’s death came a day after police in Tulsa, Oklahoma released aerial video showing the death of Terence Crutcher, likewise African-American, who had his hands up when officers opened fire.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted out the names of both Scott and Crutcher on Wednesday morning, adding “This has got to end.”

“The situations in Tulsa and Charlotte are tragic,” said Clinton’s Republican rival Donald Trump. During a speech at an Ohio church on Wednesday, he criticized the conduct of the Oklahoma officer, saying that the video showed Crutcher doing everything one was supposed to do.

“I don’t know what she was thinking,” Trump said of the officer, “But I’m very, very troubled by that.”

Police in the US have killed 842 people so far in 2016, according to the Killed by Police database, which recorded a total of 1,207 killings by law enforcement officers in 2015.