A night of violent clashes between the authorities and protesters after the fatal police shooting of an African-American man left North Carolina’s largest city on edge Wednesday, as competing narratives began to take hold and residents here braced for the possibility of further unrest.
Officials in Charlotte urged calm and reiterated their position that the Tuesday afternoon shooting of the man, Keith L. Scott, 43, occurred after he posed an “imminent deadly threat” to police officers. But at the University City apartment complex where Mr. Scott was killed, critics of the city government suggested that investigators were covering up a murder, and cast doubts on the police’s account.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Kerr Putney, chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, said officers had found the gun that the police said Mr. Scott had brandished before an officer fatally shot him and were examining police video of the encounter between Mr. Scott and officers as Mr. Scott stepped out of a car.
“He did have a weapon when he exited the vehicle,” Chief Putney said. “Officers were giving loud, clear verbal commands. The suspect exited the vehicle with a handgun, threatening officers.”
While family members of Mr. Scott have said that he was unarmed, and was holding only a book, Chief Putney said Wednesday morning, “We did not find a book.”
About an hour later, John Barnett, a civil rights activist in Charlotte, said during a raucous news conference near the site of the shooting that Mr. Scott had simply been waiting for his son to arrive home from school.
“The truth of the matter is, he didn’t point that gun,” Mr. Barnett said. “Did he intend to really sit in a vehicle, waiting on his son to get home from school and then plot to shoot a cop if they pulled up on him?”
Adding to an atmosphere loaded with suspicion and mistrust, residents of the apartment complex gave varying accounts of Mr. Scott’s death.
Some gave a different account from the police of which officer had fired the fatal shots, and others said that no one had tried to administer C.P.R. on Mr. Scott as officials had said.
Some activists demanded an economic boycott of Charlotte, a hub of commerce and culture in North Carolina.
“Since black lives do not matter for this city, then our black dollars should not matter,” said B. J. Murphy, another Charlotte activist. “We’re watching a modern-day lynching on social media, on television and it is affecting the psyche of black people.”
Mr. Murphy added: “Everybody in Charlotte should be on notice that black people, today, we’re tired of this bull. We’re tired of being killed and nobody saying nothing. We’re tired of our political leaders going along to get along; they’re so weak, they don’t have no sympathy for our grief. And we want justice.”
As an overcast day in Charlotte wore on, no one seemed certain whether the city was poised for a repeat of the violence on Tuesday night.
“I do encourage the youth to be controlled,” Mr. Barnett said, “but I can’t control them.”
Mr. Murphy said pointedly that he expected more demonstrations.
“I’m not telling our brothers and sisters to stop,” he said. “We’re not going to get out there and tell y’all: ‘Oh, brother, you shouldn’t do that. You shouldn’t do this,’ when we ain’t getting no justice.”
Later, a chant of “Hands up! Don’t shoot” began. A man, deep into the crowd, shouted his gloomy assessment: “If you put your hands up, they’re still going to shoot.”
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday that the Justice Department “is aware of, and we are assessing, the incident that led to the death of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte.”
Source: The New York Times | ALAN BLINDER and TIMOTHY WILLIAMS