A third night of protests over a fatal police shooting in Charlotte gave way to quiet streets as the city still looks for answers in a police-involved shooting that took the life of an African-American man on Tuesday.
The largely peaceful Thursday night demonstrations in the city’s business district, watched over by rifle-toting members of the National Guard, called on police to release video that could resolve wildly different accounts of the shooting death Keith Lamont Scott, 43. His family was shown the footage of his fatal shooting earlier in the day and demanded that police release it to the public.
Police have said Scott was shot to death Tuesday by a Black officer after he disregarded repeated warnings to drop his gun. Neighbors, though, have said he was holding only a book. The police chief said a gun was found next to the dead man, and there was no book.
Putney said he has seen the video and it does not contain “absolute, definitive evidence that would confirm that a person was pointing a gun.” But he added: “When taken in the totality of all the other evidence, it supports what we said.”
So far, police have resisted releasing police dashcam and body camera footage of Scott’s death. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said Thursday that releasing the footage of Scott’s killing could undermine the investigation. He told reporters the video will be made public when he believes there is a “compelling reason” to do so.
“You shouldn’t expect it to be released,” Putney said. “I’m not going to jeopardize the investigation.”
Justin Bamberg, an attorney for Scott’s family, watched the video with the slain man’s relatives. He said that in the video, Scott gets out of his vehicle calmly.
“While police did give him several commands, he did not aggressively approach them or raise his hands at members of law enforcement at any time. It is impossible to discern from the videos what, if anything, Mr. Scott is holding in his hands,” Bamberg said in a statement.
Scott was shot as he walked slowly backward with his hands by his side, Bamberg said.
The lawyer said at a news conference earlier in the day that Scott’s wife saw him get shot, “and that’s something she will never, ever forget.” That is the first time anyone connected with the case has said the wife witnessed the shooting. Bamberg gave no details on what the wife saw.
Demonstrators chanted “release the tape” and “we want the tape” Thursday while briefly blocking an intersection near Bank of America headquarters and later climbing the steps to the door of the city government center. Later, several dozen demonstrators walked onto an interstate highway through the city, but they were pushed back by police in riot gear.
Still, the protests lacked the violence and property damage of previous nights, and the curfew encouraged a stopping point. Local officers’ ranks were augmented by Guard members carrying rifles and guarding office buildings against the threat of property damage. Police say 44 people were arrested after Wednesday night’s protests.
But a 26-year-old man, identified as Justin Carr, died from a gunshot wound to the head sustained during the Wednesday night protests, which started peacefully and became violent, according to police. Few details are available about the shooting and it is unclear if it was random and no suspect is in custody yet.
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts signed documents Thursday night to be in effect from midnight until 6 a.m. each day that the state of emergency declared by the governor continues. The curfew will be in effect again on Friday.
Charlotte is the latest U.S. city to be shaken by protests and recriminations over the death of a black man at the hands of police, a list that includes Baltimore, Milwaukee, Chicago, New York and Ferguson, Missouri. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Thursday, prosecutors charged a White officer with manslaughter for killing an unarmed black man on a city street last week.