Charlotte Shooting Leaves Police on Defensive

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerry Putney. Image: WJZY

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina want the police in Charlotte to release any video recordings related to the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott, who was shot and killed Tuesday by an officer.

“In the interest of transparency and accountability, and particularly in light of conflicting accounts about the shooting, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department should quickly release any and all footage it has of the events leading up to the shooting, as well as the shooting itself,” the group’s executive director said in a statement. “The department should also explain why the officer who shot Mr. Scott was not wearing a body camera.”

Scott was fatally wounded as officers were searching for a suspect with an outstanding warrant at an apartment complex when they saw a man inside a vehicle in the apartment complex.

Police say the man got out of the car holding a gun and then got back inside of the vehicle.

“The subject got back out of the vehicle armed with a firearm and posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers who subsequently fired their weapon striking the subject,” the department said in a news release sent to WJZY. Officers then immediately requested an ambulance and began performing CPR, police said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief Kerry Putney maintains that Scott was in possession of a handgun and not a book, despite rumors to the contrary. A woman who said he was Scott’s daughter said in a Facebook

But in a Facebook Live video, a woman claiming to be the victim’s daughter contradicts what police told reporters, saying her father was disabled and unarmed at the time of the shooting. She said he was sitting in a vehicle waiting to pick up a child from the school bus when police shot him several times.

The shooting incited major protests over Scott’s death. 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. Television coverage showed police firing tear gas to break up the crowd.

The protests continued into early 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. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds, which eventually dissipated by early Wednesday morning. Putney said 16 officers suffered mostly minor injuries and police cars were damaged after people began throwing rocks.

As anger brewed over the shooting, a civil rights activist said he has a powerful witness to the shooting of a black man by a black Charlotte police officer at an apartment complex.

John Barnett said Wednesday morning that the witness did not see 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott make any threatening gestures toward officers before he was shot Tuesday afternoon. Scott died at the scene of the shooting.

Barnett did not immediately name the witness.

Meanwhile, attorney general Loretta Lynch commented on the both the Scott shooting and that of Terence Crutcher, who was killed last Friday by a Tulsa, Okla., police officer.

“These tragic incidents have once again left Americans with feelings of sorrow, anger and uncertainty,” she said at the International Bar Association Conference in Washington. “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.”

Image: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerry Putney. WJZY