- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 21, 2016

After a night of violent protests and looting, police in Charlotte tried to assuage outrage over Tuesday’s fatal shooting of a black man by an officer, calling for calm Wednesday and saying that the version of events leading up to the shooting being cited by members of the public was based on incorrect information.

Neighbors and a relative said that Keith Lamont Scott was reading a book in his car while he waited for his son to get off a school bus, but police said the 43-year-old father had a gun that he repeatedly refused to drop when ordered by officers and which was recovered at the scene of the shooting.

“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,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said Wednesday during a news conference.

Tuesday’s police shooting of Mr. Scott and Friday’s fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, stoked racial tensions locally and nationally, drawing comments from the presidential nominees and the attention of the Justice Department.

Protests had been peaceful in Tulsa but became destructive overnight Tuesday in Charlotte. Sixteen police officers were injured and businesses damaged and looted when protests turned violent.

Violent protests began again after sundown in downtown Charlotte as demonstrators rushed police in riot gear at a downtown hotel, forcing officers to fire multiple tear gas rounds at several sites. Protesters threw some of the canisters back at the police, along with bottles and other debris.


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CNN reporter Ed Lavandera was tackled by a rioter while doing a live feed and interview with host Anderson Cooper; Mr. Lavandera later shrugged it off by disparaging his attacker’s football skills.

The city of Charlotte said one person had been shot in the head during the protests and is on life support. But officials said the shooting was civilian-on-civilian and did not involve the police.

At least one nearby store was looted, CNN’s live footage showed.

Videos of the fatal shooting of Terrence Crutcher in Tulsa have provided fodder for his family to publicly contest the version of events described by police, who quickly released footage of the event and do not dispute the fact that Mr. Crutcher was unarmed.

But it’s unclear whether videos of Tuesday’s shooting of Mr. Scott in Charlotte will soon become public. The black police officer who opened fire on Mr. Scott was not wearing a body camera, as Charlotte-Mecklenburg officers are required, but video from other officers’ body-worn or dashboard-mounted cameras may have captured the shooting.

The North Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is calling for the immediate release of the footage, stressing that a new law that will make it more difficult to release body camera footage is set to take effect in less than two weeks.

“As we’ve seen elsewhere, video footage of police shootings can provide crucial evidence of what took place — especially when there are conflicting accounts from police and community members,” said Karen Anderson, executive director of North Carolina’s ACLU. “Charlotte should set an example for North Carolina by releasing footage of the shooting promptly before the obstacles imposed by the new state law take effect.”

Police are reviewing multiple recordings from the scene. It’s unclear whether there is video that captured the entire incident, which began as officers responded to an apartment complex to serve a warrant on a resident.

There officers encountered Mr. Scott, who officials said exited a vehicle with a handgun and refused multiple commands to drop the weapon before Officer Brently Vinson opened fire.

Chief Putney said Wednesday that the police department does not intend to release video of the shooting until its investigation is complete.

“Right now, we can’t release it,” the chief said, citing state law. “It would have a negative impact on the integrity of the case, and that’s not something we are going to do.”

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, appearing on CNN Wednesday afternoon, said she hopes the video can be released “as quickly as possible.”

A woman claiming to be Mr. Scott’s daughter said in a video that was posted to Facebook and widely shared that her father was not armed and was holding a book, not a gun, when he was shot.

Civil rights activist John Barnett said Wednesday that he has spoken with a witness who said Mr. Scott did not make any threatening moves toward police before he was shot.

Mr. Barnett warned that, with different accounts of the events emerging, release of police videos might be necessary to restore calm.

“Just telling us this is still under investigation is not good enough for the windows of the Wal-Mart,” he said, referring to the retail store that was looted when protests turned violent overnight.

Chief Putney rebutted the claims that Mr. Scott was carrying a book, not a gun, saying that officers did not recover a book from the scene but had found a weapon.

Video of police shootings has proven key to investigations of use of force in the past. A South Carolina police officer was indicted earlier this year on federal charges after bystander video showed him shooting an unarmed black man in the back as he ran away after a traffic stop.

Tulsa police were quick to release video capturing Friday’s fatal shooting of Mr. Crutcher.

Videos from a dashboard camera and a helicopter showing the fatal shooting of the unarmed black man were released just three days after he was killed. The videos show Mr. Crutcher walking back to his vehicle with his hands above his head just before he is shot.

A lawyer for the white police officer who opened fire, Betty Shelby, said she fired because she believed Mr. Crutcher was reaching back into his vehicle for a weapon. A vial of PCP was later recovered from Mr. Crutcher’s car but no weapon, police said.

Lawyers for Mr. Crutcher’s family have used police videos that captured the incident to point out what they claim is a flaw in the officer’s account. Attorney Benjamin Crump said the images show that the vehicle’s window is closed and smeared with blood.

“He is not threatening to anyone,” Mr. Crump said. “How can he be reaching into the car if the window is up and there is blood on the glass?”

The Tulsa video has elicited reaction from the presidential nominees.

“People that choke, people that do that, maybe they can’t be doing what they’re doing,” said Republican nominee Donald Trump, referring to the officer who opened fire.

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton called the contents of the video “unbearable.”

The Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into Mr. Crutcher’s death in Tulsa, and it is “assessing” Mr. Scott’s death, said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.

“These tragic incidents have once again left Americans with feelings of sorrow, anger and uncertainty,” she said Wednesday. “They have once again highlighted — in the most vivid and painful terms — the real divisions that still persist in this nation between law enforcement and communities of color.”

Ms. Lynch and other leaders urged those angered by the deaths to remain calm as the incidents are investigated.

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