Protesters in police shooting injure officers, shut highway

2016-09-21 16:39
Charlotte police work the scene of a shooting after black police officer shot a black man (AP).

Charlotte police work the scene of a shooting after black police officer shot a black man (AP).

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Charlotte — Authorities used tear gas to disperse protesters in an overnight demonstration that left about a dozen officers injured in North Carolina's largest city and shut down a highway after the fatal shooting of a black man by Charlotte police who said he was armed and posed a threat.

The protests broke out on Tuesday after 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott was fatally shot by a black officer at an apartment complex on the city's northeast side. Protesters continued into Wednesday morning, when TV footage showed dozens of protesters on Interstate 85 apparently looting semi-trucks and setting their contents on fire on the highway.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation website showed a portion of I-85 near the University of North Carolina Charlotte campus was closed in both directions on Wednesday. The website said the closure was due to police activity.

Tuesday night, a larger group of demonstrators gathered near the scene of the shooting. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department tweeted that demonstrators were destroying marked police vehicles and that approximately 12 officers had been injured, including one who was hit in the face with a rock. Photos and TV video showed police firing tear gas to break up the crowd.

By 05:00 on Wednesday, the streets were quiet with no protesters in sight and I-85 was moving again. Broken glass and rocks littered the ground where a police car had been vandalised. Less than 8km away, wooden pallets barricaded the entrance of a Wal-Mart that had apparently been looted.

The unrest in Charlotte came just hours after another demonstration in Tulsa, Oklahoma, over the shooting there of an unarmed black man by police.


Protesters approach police in Charlotte (AP).

Charlotte police officers went to the complex about 16:00 looking for a suspect with an outstanding warrant when they saw Scott — who was not the suspect they were looking for — inside a car, department spokesperson Keith Trietley said in a statement.

Officers say they saw Scott get out of the car with a gun and then get back in, Trietley said. When officers approached, the man exited the car with the gun again. At that point, officers deemed the man a threat and at least one fired a weapon, he said.

Scott was taken to Carolinas Medical Center and pronounced dead.

Officer Brentley Vinson, who shot Scott, has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure in such cases. Vinson has been with the department for two years.

Detectives recovered a gun at the scene and were interviewing witnesses, Trietley said.

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