CHARLOTTE, North Carolina –Protests erupted in North Carolina after an officer fatally shot one man while serving a warrant for a different person at an apartment complex in Charlotte.
Police say the man they shot had a gun, his family members say he was carrying a book.
Several hundred people gathered outside the complex Tuesday night, chanting “no justice, no peace!” and carrying signs that said “Black Lives Matter.”
While some threw bottles and rocks at officers working to control the protesters, others implored them to stop.
“That’s when things really started to pick up. I would say not long before 11 p.m., police deployed tear gas … as they tried to clear the streets,” said Adam Rhew, associate editor for Charlotte magazine.
After a brief lull, the crowds regrouped early Wednesday and blocked Interstate 85. They started a fire at the center of the highway, forcing vehicles and tractor-trailers to stall as far as the eye could see. Police cars with flashing lights hovered nearby.
Some protesters removed boxes from the back of semitrailers and set the items on fire. Police in riot gear formed a line and forced crowds away from the highway.
Shortly after, the highway partially opened, but some protesters remained in the vicinity and continued chanting. Others jumped on top of a police van and stomped on it, breaking the windshield and other windows.
At least seven people were transported to the hospital with minor injuries, CNN affiliate WSOC reported. It said five others have been arrested.
Victim, officer identified
The man shot by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Tuesday afternoon has been identified as Keith Lamont Scott, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said.
Brentley Vinson, the officer involved in the shooting who is African-American, has been placed on paid administrative leave, according to the mayor.
Racial tensions are high nationwide following other officer-involved shootings. The fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, sparked protests after video of the killing appeared Monday. Charlotte’s is the latest case involving an officer-involved shooting, and protesters are demanding justice and an end to police brutality for months.
‘When will our lives truly matter?’
Most of the protesters cited the case of Ahmad Rahami, the suspect in the New York and New Jersey explosions who was arrested alive Monday after a shootout.
“Something has to be done … there was a terrorist in New Jersey, New York. He was taken alive,” protester Nichelle Dunlap told CNN affiliate WCCB in Charlotte.
“They said they want to question him. So because you wanted to question him, does his life mean more than our black men across the nation? It doesn’t make any sense.”
Corine Mack, who attended the protests in Charlotte, said the community is frustrated.
“When will our lives truly matter? A black father is dead. There are children tonight who will never see their father again,” said Mack, who is president of the Charlotte chapter of the NAACP.
“It clearly appears as if our lives don’t matter. We need to change policies. We need to change procedure. We need to hold police accountable. It’s a modern day lynching. Charlotte is not a good place right now, we’re in the throes of this problem.”
The mayor called for a full investigation into the shooting, saying she’ll work with authorities on the case.
“The community deserves answers and full investigation will ensue. Will be reaching out to community leaders to work together,” the mayor tweeted.
The incident started when Charlotte police looking to serve a warrant Tuesday shot and killed a man in the parking lot of an apartment complex.
Though the man was armed, he’s not the one police were looking for, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said in a statement.
The Tuesday afternoon shooting set off an angry crowd response that grew as the hours passed.
It’s unclear why authorities were serving the warrant. While they were looking for that individual, officers saw a man get out of a car with a gun, then get back into the vehicle, the statement said.
Officers moved in.
“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,” police said.
Police Chief Kerr Putney said at least one officer shot the man. Two investigative branches of the department were looking into the shooting, he said.
Scott died at Carolinas Medical Center. A gun he was holding was found at the scene, police said.
Family told CNN that Scott was a father of seven and was sitting in the car reading a book when officers arrived on the scene.
The officer involved in the shooting has worked for the department for two years.
At least 12 officers suffered injuries during the protests, the police department tweeted. It did not provide details on the nature and severity of the injuries, but said one of its officers was hit in the face with a rock.