CHARLOTTE A week in the Queen City that began with civilized protests surrounding the posturing and politics of House Bill 2 morphed into riots after a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer shot and killed a black man, leading to chaos that reopened unhealed wounds locally and nationally. Keith Lamont Scott, 43, was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon near College Downs Apartments in Charlotte when police say he disobeyed “clear, verbal commands” to drop a gun he was carrying after officers witnessed him with the weapon. Video of the shooting taken by Scott’s wife, Rakeyia, was released to several media outlets Friday afternoon by the family’s attorney, Justin Bamberg. In the video, which does not show the shooting, Rakeyia Scott is heard telling the police that Scott does not have a gun and that he has traumatic brain injury. Police repeatedly tell Scott to “drop the gun,” and right before the gunshots are heard, Rakeyia Scott yells, “Keith! Keith! Keith! Don’t you do it!” Police say they saw Scott with the gun outside his truck and after approaching him he exited his vehicle with the weapon and ignored their orders. Officer Brently Vinson was identified as the officer who opened fire. Vinson, who is also black, was placed on administrative leave following the shooting. Scott’s family has disputed the police account that Scott, a married father of seven, had a gun, saying instead he was holding a book and was simply waiting to pick his son up from school. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney refuted their claims, saying Scott had a weapon which was recovered from the scene. Following the shooting Tuesday there were peaceful demonstrations, but as the night wore on they turned violent, with several injuries to officers, damage to property and one arrest. On Wednesday the protests again turned ugly, with rioters looting businesses and protesters, police and even news reporters and photographers injured in the lawlessness, leading Gov. Pat McCrory to declare a state of emergency and deploy the National Guard and state police to Charlotte. McCrory also traveled to the city, where he previously served as mayor,insupportof police. In all, nine people were injured and 44 arrested Wednesday. One man, 26-year-old Justin Carr, was shot and killed in the rioting, and police Friday morning arrested 21-year-old Rayquan Borum in connection with the death.By Thursday evening, though, nonviolent protests returned under the watchful eye of National Guard troops. Police still asked for and received a midnight- to-6 a.m. curfew at 9 p.m. Thursday night, with Putney saying Friday it was implemented, in part, due to police intelligence that a “violent group out of South Carolina” had come to Charlotte. Still, officials seemed relieved that Thursday’s protests which still yielded three arrests and saw three officers and one member of the National Guard treated for injuries, according to Putney were much more subdued than the previous two nights. “Last night is what lawful demonstration looks like,” Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said a Friday morning press conference. “I am also very encouraged by the manner in which the 1st Amendment was exercised last night,” Putney added Prior to the release of Rakeyia Scott’s video, the North Carolina chapters of the ACLU and NAACP had called on CMPD to release any police footage of Scott’s shooting to the public Vinson was not wearing a body camera. “There must be transparency and the videos must be released,” the Rev. William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP, said at a Thursday news conference. The ACLU of North Carolina reminded authorities 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, asking CMPD to make any videos public. However, the CMPD said they did not want to release the video before all witnesses had been interviewed, concerned that public dissemination would taint witnesses’ memory. On Friday authorities said they were still conducting interviews. The Scott case has been officially turned over to the State Bureau of Investigation, but Putney did say Friday video from police did not offer a full picture of Tuesday’s shooting. Any release of CMPD footage would now be done by SBI. “What I can tell you is it’s a matter of when and a matter of sequence,” Putney said. In Oklahoma, police footage of an officer shooting and killing an unarmed black man Monday led to the Tulsa County district attorney charging the shooter, Betty Shelby, with first-degree manslaughter on Thursday. Roberts said Friday that uptown Charlotte was “largely open to business.” The uptown corporate office of Bank of America which employs 15,000 people closed its offices Thursday and Friday, while Wells Fargo reopened Friday after telling employees to stay home Thursday. Bank of America planned to reopen Monday. In her initial press conference on the shooting Tuesday, Roberts urged citizens to “wait until we have all the information” before reacting. “We are calling for peace, we are calling for calm, we are calling for dialogue,” Roberts said. After two days of violence and looting, the Charlotte mayor who at the beginning of the week was caught in a cat-and-mouse game of political maneuvering with the GOP over H.B. 2 is trying, with the police chief, to maintain order. Reuters contributed to this report.
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