After a night of violent protests in Charlotte, the police chief tried to quash rumors about what happened to Keith Lamont Scott.
Scott, a father of seven, was killed by police in an apartment complex parking lot as officers looked for another man named in a warrant they were trying to serve.
His family said Scott, an African-American, was unarmed and sitting in his car reading a book, waiting for his son to come home from school.
But Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said Scott exited his car with a gun, not a book. He said officers couldn’t find a book at the scene.
“It’s time for the voiceless majority to stand up and be heard,” the police chief, who is also black, said Wednesday.
“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.”
Putney said both evidence and witnesses support the officers’ claim that Scott was armed.
Officers repeatedly told Scott to drop his gun, Putney said, but he didn’t. Officer Brentley Vinson, who is also black, then shot him.
The chief said he was not certain whether Scott pointed his gun at officers; Vinson was not wearing a body camera at the time.
But a person doesn’t have to point a weapon directly at police to spur deadly force, CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick said.
“You don’t have to actually wait until a handgun is pointed at you because you’re talking milliseconds of a decision as to whether you’re going to pull your trigger, or that individual is going to pull their trigger,” Roderick said.
Bottles, rocks and fires
Hundreds of protesters rallied overnight, with some throwing rocks at police and setting fires.
Many chanted “Black lives matter.”
Putney said 16 officers were injured in the protests.
Some blocked Interstate 85 and started a fire in the middle of the highway, forcing vehicles and tractor-trailers to stop as far as the eye could see.
Protesters removed boxes from the backs of semitrailers and set the items on fire. Police in riot gear formed a line and forced crowds away from the highway.
Others jumped on top of a police van and stomped on it, breaking the windshield and other windows.
At least seven people were hospitalized with minor injuries, CNN affiliate WSOC reported. Five others were arrested, WSOC said.
‘When will our lives truly matter?’
Corine Mack, who attended the protests, said the community is frustrated.
“When will our lives truly matter? A black father is dead. There are children tonight who will never see their father again,” said Mack, president of the Charlotte chapter of the NAACP.
“It clearly appears as if our lives don’t matter. We need to change policies. We need to change procedure. We need to hold police accountable. It’s a modern-day lynching. Charlotte is not a good place right now; we’re in the throes of this problem.”
Mayor Jennifer Roberts called for a full investigation into the shooting.
“The community deserves answers and full investigation will ensue. Will be reaching out to community leaders to work together,” Roberts tweeted.
Vinson, the officer involved in the shooting, has been placed on paid administrative leave, the mayor said. He has worked for the department for two years.
Another controversial police shooting
The Charlotte case is the latest in a series of controversial shootings of black men by police. Protesters have been demanding justice and an end to police brutality for months.
Last week’s fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, also sparked protests after video of the killing was aired Monday.
Crutcher’s father, the Rev. Joey Crutcher, said the overnight protests in Charlotte are “just a continuation of the same thing over and over and over again.”
“And it’s perpetuated against people of color more than anything else,” he told CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday. “If it would have been in the reverse, if it would have been a Caucasian, it would have been totally different.”