Rioting and unrest erupted in Charlotte, North Carolina over the police shooting of father of seven Keith Lamont Scott, intensifying throughout the night as fires were set, trucks looted, and officers wounded.
The unrest continued Wednesday night, and one civilian was killed by another civilian. You can learn more about day 2 of the protests/riots here.
The Tuesday outrage – which led to the injuries of at least 16 officers, one by a rock and seven civilians – was fueled, in part, by a dramatic and expletive-laden video that Scott’s daughter, Lyric, streamed on Facebook Live immediately after the shooting, in which she claimed police shot her father because he was black.
Scott’s brother said on video that all white people are f–king devils, although the officer who shot and killed Scott was also African-American. Police and the family disagreed over the details of the shooting. The police chief, who is also African American, strongly disputes the social media narrative that Scott was holding only a book. He said September 21 that police did not find a book at the scene and that Scott was armed with a gun, according to CNN.
The unrest was growing more intense in the early morning hours of September 21 as people ignited fires and looted a truck, prompting the driver, who was still inside, to tell a local news reporter she feared for her life. After 3 p.m., police and SWAT teams entered a formation and announced they were going to remove demonstrators from a highway, WSOC9 reporter Joe Bruno tweeted. By 3:30, he said demonstrators were disbursing into smaller groups.
The reporter, Joe Bruno, posted audio of his interview with the shaken truck driver. Listen:
Dramatic imagery emerged from the scene:
The shooting of Scott – by Officer Brentley Vinson – was the latest in a string of police shootings to cause unrest throughout the United States. It also comes on the heels of outrage over the shooting in Tulsa, Oklahoma of an unarmed black man named Terence Crutcher.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police & Family Disagree Over Whether Scott Was Armed
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say that Scott was shot and killed after police went to serve a warrant for another person at an apartment complex. The police chief has strongly pushed back against the narrative on social media that Scott was holding a book, not a gun.
“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,” said Chief Kerr Putney, according to CNN.
A WBTV reporter released what she said was a picture from a police source of the gun recovered at the scene:
Putney said the officer was not wearing a body camera and added that “officers repeatedly told Scott to drop his gun, Putney said to CNN, but he didn’t,” saying that witnesses and evidence bear out this account.
Once there, they said that a confrontation ensued with an armed Scott, who was a father of seven and was, according to family, disabled. A police statement released to the news media says that officers from the Metro Division Crime Reduction Unit were searching for a suspect with an outstanding warrant on him at the Village at College downs when they observed a person, Scott, inside a vehicle in the apartment complex.
“The subject exited the vehicle armed with a firearm,” the statement says. “Officers observed the subject get back into the vehicle at which time they began to approach the subject. The subject got back out of the vehicle armed with a firearm and posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers who subsequently fired their weapon.”
You can read the police news release here:
However, Scott’s family and friends insisted to the news media that Scott was unarmed and holding only a book. A Go Fund Me site created for Scott said, “Keith Lamont Scott was shot reportedly 4 times while reading a book and waiting for his son to get off the bus. He has sadly been taken away from his wife Rakeyia Scott and 7 children and family who love him dearly.”
Whether Scott was actually holding a book or whether that will turn out to be social media mythology is unclear. However, the contention quickly took traction on social media, fueling great anger toward police.
Scott’s brother spoke angrily about the shooting to reporters at the scene. At one point. he said on video that “all white people are f–king devils.”
Police say they recovered Scott’s gun at the scene.
2. Vinson, Who Shot Scott, Is Also African-American & Is a Former Football Player
The officer who shot and killed Scott was identified as Brentley Vinson. Vinson is a former college football player for Liberty University who has been on the Charlotte police force since 2014. Photos on the Charlotte police Facebook page show Vinson serving ice cream to children. He’s the officer in the middle back:
According to his college football biography, Vinson was a criminal justice major who “transferred to Liberty from Fork Union Military Academy … started every game for Fork Union in 2008 … graduated from Ardrey Kell High School … was a Southwestern 4A all-conference defensive back in 2006 … was forced to sit out the 2007 season due to an injury.”
The governor, Pat McCrory, said “he is praying for the victim’s family and injured officers,” according to WSOC-TV, and a civil rights leader called for an economic boycott of Charlotte.
3. At Least 16 Police Officers Were Injured During the Protests & People Looted Trucks & Set Fires
Charlotte police said on Twitter that at least a dozen police officers were injured, one with a rock. WSOC-TV reported that “Protesters have blocked I-85, lighting fires from boxes on looted trucks” and “Protesters are looting from a truck stuck in traffic” and “Protesters walked onto Interstate 85 blocking both directions at Harris Boulevard.”
Around 2:30 a.m., people looted a truck and set items from it on fire, causing a truck driver inside to fear for her life, according to Joe Bruno, a reporter for WSOC 9.
Charlotte police said police were working to restore calm. Police said “agitators” had “joined the demonstrators.” They added, “Demonstrators surrounded our officers who were attempting to leave scene.” The window of a news van was smashed:
Police also wrote that “Civil Emergency Unit deployed to safely remove our officers from old concord.” WSOC-TV reported that people had streamed onto the freeway.
4. People Posted Dramatic Videos From the Protest Scene Showing Protesters Yelling in the Faces of Police Officers
One man’s Facebook Live video had more than 1 million views. Mills Shaka Zulu Gill posted a series of streams live on Facebook as the night unfolded. Another video he posted was viewed more than 700,000 times in just a few hours, showing the immense power of social media to affect public opinion in police-related controversies.
Another video he posted showed people walking around near police squads with whirring lights and a chaotic scene, including people throwing rocks at squad cars.
He also captured the fires being set. Videos showed a raucous scene in which protesters got in the faces of riot gear-clad police officers and tried to destroy squad cars.
5. Scott’s Daughter’s Facebook Live Stream Was Viewed Thousands of Times
Scott’s daughter, Lyric expressed her anger in the minutes after the shooting in a Facebook Live stream viewed by many thousands of people.
She unleashed expletives at police officers who stood only feet away just moments after her 43-year-old father was gunned down. You can watch the video above. Warning: The language is graphic. As with the case of Philando Castile in Minnesota last summer, the power of live Facebook streaming began to energize demonstrators and informed people of the shooting in real time.
“The police just shot my daddy…for being black,” Scott’s daughter said in an angry, lengthy Facebook Live post that went viral on the Internet.