Protests over latest fatal US police shooting turn violent

Police officers wearing riot gear blocking a road during protests on Tuesday night after a police officer fatally shot Mr Keith Lamont Scott in the carpark of an apartment complex in Charlotte, North Carolina. Several hundred people gathered to conde
Police officers wearing riot gear blocking a road during protests on Tuesday night after a police officer fatally shot Mr Keith Lamont Scott in the carpark of an apartment complex in Charlotte, North Carolina. Several hundred people gathered to condemn the shooting and grew increasingly violent through the night, torching trucks and attacking police cars.PHOTO: REUTERS

CHARLOTTE • Protests and looting rocked a North Carolina city yesterday, following the fatal police shooting of a black man, with a dozen officers and several demonstrators injured in the violence.

According to media reports, several hundred people gathered to protest against the shooting on Tuesday of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, who is African-American, as is the officer who killed him. Demonstrations began late on Tuesday and grew through much of the night near an apartment complex in the city of Charlotte, where the shooting occurred.

As news spread, protesters gathered, carrying signs that read "Black Lives Matter" and chanting "No justice, no peace". Later in the night, some protesters set fires blocking a major road, according to news reports.

A television station reported that looters attempted to break into a Walmart store, throwing rocks and shattering glass doors. They were held back by police officers.

The violence comes just days after another police shooting, captured on video, of an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Together, they are the latest in a series of recent police shootings - from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Dallas, Texas - that have spurred the African American community to demand law enforcement reforms and greater accountability from public officials.

ENDLESS

It's just continuation of the same thing, over and over and over again. And it's perpetuated against people of colour more than anything else.

MR JOEY CRUTCHER, whose son was shot dead by police officers in Tulsa last Friday.

News reports said the officer in Tuesday's shooting, Mr Brentley Vinson, has been put on paid leave.

WSOC-TV reported that the shooting occurred as Mr Vinson and other officers were searching for a suspect on an outstanding arrest warrant. Police encountered Mr Scott - who was not the person they were seeking - in a car parked at the building.

"At this point, all we know (is) they were in the apartment complex parking lot," Charlotte-Mecklenberg police chief Kerr Putney told reporters on Tuesday.

"This subject gets out with a weapon. They engage him, and one of the officers felt a lethal threat and fired his weapon because of that."

Police said Mr Scott had a firearm, which is legal under local "open carry" gun laws. His relatives told the media, however, that he was not carrying a gun, but had a book in his hands.

Charlotte police donned riot gear and used tear gas as they tried to subdue the crowd which the authorities said attacked and damaged several police cars. The police department said on Twitter that approximately 12 officers had been hurt.

 
 

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts appealed for calm. "The community deserves answers and full investigation will ensue," she tweeted.

Meanwhile, the fatal shooting in Tulsa last Friday of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher was recorded by police car dashboard cameras and a police helicopter camera.

Tulsa police chief Chuck Jordan, in releasing the footage on Monday, called it disturbing and "very difficult to watch". In the video, Mr Crutcher is seen with his hands up, appearing to comply with police officers and leaning against his car.

He is then shot once by officer Betty Shelby and falls to the ground. Another officer fires his stun gun.

"We will achieve justice in this case," Mr Jordan told a news conference. "We will do the right thing. We will not cover anything up."

The US Department of Justice said on Monday it would conduct a federal civil rights probe, parallel to the one the local authorities in the state are carrying out.

"It's just continuation of the same thing, over and over and over again," Mr Crutcher's father Joey Crutcher, told CNN yesterday. "And it's perpetuated against people of colour more than anything else."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2016, with the headline 'Protests over latest fatal US police shooting turn violent'. Print Edition | Subscribe