Charlotte mayor, police chief address shooting death by officer

16 officers injured in protests turned violent

Adam Rhew—Charlotte Magazine
Police officers wearing riot gear block a road during protests after police fatally shot Keith Lamont Scott in the parking lot of an apartment complex Sept. 20in Charlotte.

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney and Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts addressed Tuesday’s fatal shooting of a Charlotte man and called for peaceful protests at a press conference Wednesday morning at Charlotte’s City Hall. Keith Lamont Scott, 43, was shot by officer Brently Vinson just before 4 p.m. at College Downs Apartments. In a press release Tuesday, the CMPD said officers observed Scott exit his vehicle with a handgun, then approached him when he re-entered.”The subject got back out of the vehicle armed with a firearm and posed an imminent deadly threat to officers who subsequently fired their weapon striking the subject,” police said in the statement. “”The officers immediately requested medic and began performing CPR.” Both Scott, who died after being transported to Carolinas Medical Center, and Vinson are black. Protesters arrived at the scene on Old Concord Road by 7 p.m. and as the night went on turned violent. Eventually, both North and South lanes of I-85 were blocked by protesters, a tractor trailer was set on fire, several police vehicles were damaged, one person was arrested and 16 officers were injured.Roberts urged citizens to “wait until we have all of the information,” while Putney addressed what the department had found in its investigation since the shooting, including that a firearm was obtained from the scene. On Tuesday, a woman claiming to be Scott’s daughter said Scott was not carrying a gun, but a book. Putney said Vinson was not wearing a body camera and was unsure if any footage from scene indicated Scott “definitively pointed a weapon at the officer.””We’re still going through all of the footage from both body-worn and dash,” Putney said. According to Putney, any footage from the scene cannot yet be released to the public. Following the press conference, the ACLU of North Carolina released a statement urging authorities to release any video, citing that a new North Carolina law that prevents law enforcement from releasing footage without a court order doesn’t go into effect until Oct. 1.”In the interest of transparency and accountability, and particularly in light of conflicting accounts about the shooting, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department should quickly release any and all footage it has of the events leading up to the shooting, as well as the shooting itself,” Karen Anderson, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, said in a statement. “The department should also explain why the officer who shot Mr. Scott was not wearing a body camera.”North Carolina is one of 31 states that do not require a permit to carry a hand gun openly. At the time of Scott’s death, police were at College Downs to serve a warrant to another man. A week ago Putney had spoke on police brutality to a packed fellowship hall at Hickory Grove United Methodist Church, promising an end to the long history of Charlotte police failing to acknowledge their own racism and injustice. At Wednesday’s press conference, he told reporters and others, “Now we have a challenge.”The deadly shooting and violent protest follow a string of many that have occurred in larger cities throughout the United States. In August, a North Carolina state trooper shot and killed an unarmed 29-year-old deaf man in Charlotte following a car chase police said exceeded 100 mph and ended with shots fired following an on-foot pursuit. At Wednesday’s press conference, Willie Ratchford, executive director of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee, offered his condolences to the Scott family and urged for a sense of community. Roberts said the protests will most likely carry on Wednesday and into the night. “We are calling for peace, we are calling for calm, we are calling for dialogue,” she said.