State News

Police chief: Officers gave man multiple warnings to drop gun before fatal shooting

Posted September 21

— Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney said officers gave 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott multiple warnings to drop a handgun before fatally shooting him.

During a news conference Wednesday morning, Putney said officers were searching for a different suspect at a northeast Charlotte apartment complex Tuesday when they saw Scott exit a vehicle with a handgun. Putney said the officers told Scott to drop the gun, but he got out of the vehicle a second time still carrying the firearm.

Putney said officers shot Scott because he posed a threat. Officers requested medical help and performed CPR on Scott soon after the shooting, Putney said.

"It's time to change the narrative, because I can tell you from the facts that the story's a little bit different as to how it's been portrayed so far, especially through social media," he said.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts appealed for calm in Wednesday's news conference and promised a full investigation of the incident.

Officer Brentley Vinson, who shot Scott has been placed on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated. Vinson has been with CMPD since 2014.

Putney said Vinson was in plain clothes, not police uniform, but he was wearing a vest bearing the CMPD logo. Vinson was not wearing a body camera during the shooting, Putney said, but other officers were.

B.J. Murphy, the leader of the Nation of Islam, called for an economic boycott of Charlotte at a news conference of black leaders on Wednesday, saying if black lives don't matter, black money shouldn't matter.

Hours after the shooting, authorities used tear gas to disperse protesters in an overnight demonstration that left 12 officers with minor injuries and shut down a highway in the state's largest city. 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.

Following the shooting and prior to the protest, an online post on Facebook by a woman claiming to be Scott's daughter angrily asserted that he was unarmed when police shot him. Saying the claim was false, Putney said a handgun was recovered from the scene.

Tuesday night, a larger group of demonstrators gathered near the scene of the shooting. The 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. Photos and TV video showed police firing tear gas to break up the crowd. Some officers were in riot gear.

By 5 a.m. Wednesday, the streets were quiet with no protesters in sight and I-85 was moving again. Broken glass and rocks littered the ground where a police car had been vandalized. Less than 5 miles away, wooden pallets barricaded the entrance of a Wal-Mart that had apparently been looted.

The unrest in Charlotte came just hours after another demonstration in Tulsa, Oklahoma, over the shooting there of an unarmed black man by police.