Charlotte Police say Man Killed by Officers Was Holding a Gun, Not a Book


Quiet returned to Charlotte streets Wednesday after the police-involved shooting of an African-American man ignited a night of anger and violence that left windows smashed, stores looted, trucks set ablaze and 16 police officers wounded in the melee.

The violence erupted hours after the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott, 43, who police say was armed and ignored several commands to drop his weapon.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney, at a news conference Wednesday, rejected claims Scott was holding a book, not a gun, and said the gun had been recovered by detectives. No book was found, Putney added.

“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.

The shooting took place four days after a Tulsa police officer fatally shot an unarmed black man who was standing outside his vehicle. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch called for calm in both cities and across the nation. Lynch said the Justice Department opened a civil rights probe into the death of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa and was “assessing” Scott’s death.

“These tragic incidents have once again left Americans with feelings of sorrow, anger and uncertainty,’’ Lynch said. “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.’’

Gov. Pat McCrory issued a statement pledging support for Putney and Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts in their efforts to “keep the community calm and to get this situation resolved.”

In Charlotte, Putney said police dashcams recorded parts of the confrontation, and the videos were being reviewed. The African-American officer who shot Scott, identified as Brentley Vinson, was not wearing a body camera, Putney said.

The ACLU called on the police department to “promptly” release the videos “in the interest of transparency and accountability.” The advocacy group also demanded an explanation for why Vinson was not wearing a body camera.

Putney said officers were searching for a suspect with an outstanding warrant Tuesday afternoon at The Village at College Downs when they observed a man — not the person they were looking for — inside a vehicle at the apartment complex.

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Source: USA Today | John Bacon