News & Politics

Second Night of Unrest in Charlotte; at Least Four Officers Injured, One Protester on Life Support

Demonstrators protest Tuesday's fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, N.C. on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016. Protesters rushed police in riot gear at a downtown Charlotte hotel and officers have fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. At least one person was injured in the confrontation, though it wasn't immediately clear how. Firefighters rushed in to pull the man to a waiting ambulance. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

The governor of North Carolina declared a state of emergency for the city of Charlotte Wednesday night as a second day of rioting became violent and one individual was shot in the back of the head by a fellow protester. Rioters hurled profanities and bottles at police during the clashes and looted several area stores. The National Guard and State Highway Patrol were deployed to assist law enforcement.

Via the Seattle Times:

The man was not shot by police who had massed in riot gear to keep the marchers outside an upscale downtown hotel, Charlotte officials announced on Twitter. City officials originally announced the man was dead but later reversed that statement and said he was on life support.

Along with the man critically injured, paramedics said two other people and six police officers suffered minor injuries.

After the police shooting Tuesday of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, two wildly different versions emerged: The police say Scott disregarded repeated demands to drop his gun, and the black community says he was sitting in his car holding a book — not a gun —  as he waited for his son to get off the school bus. On Wednesday morning, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney tried to put the latter version to rest:

“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.”

The police chief said officers were serving arrest warrants on another person when they saw Scott get out of a vehicle with a handgun. A black plainclothes officer in a vest emblazoned “Police” shot Scott after the officer and other uniformed members of the force made “loud, clear” demands that he drop the gun, the chief said.

Putney was adamant that Scott posed a threat, even if he didn’t point his weapon at officers, and said a gun was found next to the dead man. “I can tell you we did not find a book,” the chief said.

Neighbors, though, said that the officer who fired was white and that Scott had his hands in the air.

The three uniformed officers had body cameras; the plainclothes officer did not, police said. But the chief said he cannot release the video because the investigation is still underway. No cellphone video has emerged on social media, as happened in other cases around the country.

The plainclothes officer, identified as Brently Vinson, a two-year member of the department, has been placed on leave, standard procedure in such cases.

Scott has a lengthy criminal record, including convictions in Texas, North Carolina and South Carolina. Texas records showed he was convicted of evading arrest with a vehicle in 2005, and several months later, of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Wednesday’s protest reportedly started peacefully as a downtown “prayer vigil,” but a contingent of angry agitators soon left that event and marched through downtown Charlotte.

They shouted “black lives matter” and “hands up; don’t shoot” while cursing at officers with bicycles blocking intersections in Charlotte’s flashy and vibrant downtown. As the protesters approached the Omni hotel, officers in riot gear lined up outside arm in arm and a few marchers threw bottles and clods of dirt.

Immediately after the shooting, police began firing flash grenades and protesters threw fireworks. Police then fired tear gas, and the crowd of hundreds dispersed.

But not all the marchers left. Police in riot gear then began marching arm in arm through downtown Charlotte intersections, shooting tear gas at people who charged them. At least one protester knocked down a television reporter during a live shot and several other media outlets said on Twitter they had employees taken to hospitals.

A CNN reporter covering the unrest was knocked to the ground by one of the rioters:

Nearby stores were vandalized and looted:

Things turned particularly ugly and horrifying when rioters tried to throw a local photographer into a fire:

And what race riot would be complete without Black Lives Matter leader and Obama protege DeRay McKesson weighing in.

At least four officers were injured during Wednesday night’s skirmishes.