Charlotte police say that Keith Lamont Scott, 43, got out of his car in an apartment complex parking lot holding a weapon and posed a deadly threat to officers. His family says he did not have a weapon and was reading a book waiting for his son to get home from school.
What is not in dispute is that police officers shot and killed Scott around 4 p.m. Tuesday, and that protesters, angered by yet another black man being killed by law enforcement, took to the streets to decry Scott's death. The Charlotte Observer reported that protesters demonstrated until as late as 3:30 AM on Wednesday morning.
Angry residents galvanized around the message of a woman who identified herself as Scott's daughter. In a Facebook Live broadcast that has since been removed, she claimed that her father had done nothing wrong.
“The police just shot my daddy four times for being black,” she said, according to the New York Times.
The shooting comes days after video showed Tulsa police shooting Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, outside his vehicle, as well as the many other high-profile instances of black people being killed by police in recent years.
Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Chief Kerr Putney told reporters at a Wednesday morning press conference that police were at the apartment complex searching for someone with an outstanding warrant, not Scott. According to their account, they saw Scott get out of his car and believed he posed a threat. The second time he got out of his car, Putney said, he was holding a handgun, which is when police shot him. He said they recovered a firearm from the scene.
Putney also confirmed Wednesday that there is video footage of the shooting and that police were still reviewing it. The officer who shot Scott was not wearing a body camera.
The protests began peacefully — at one point the Observer reported police officers were handing out water bottles to those protesting. However, the account of an Observer reporter at the scene showed things began to escalate soon after.
As the protest began to diminish in size, protesters eventually occupied Interstate 85, blocking traffic. Media reports showed people throwing rocks at cars and taking items off of trucks and burning them. Police say 16 officers were injured during the protest.
In messages posted on Twitter, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts promised a transparent investigation into the shooting.