CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Chaos erupts in Charlotte for a second night in a row as one person was shot and and critically injured during violent protests Wednesday following the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
The City of Charlotte tweeted the shooting was “civilian on civilian” and as of late Wednesday night was on life support in critical condition.
Authorities said earlier reports that the person had died were not accurate.
The shooting happened after protesters rushed police in riot gear at a downtown Charlotte hotel on the second night of protests.
Police began firing flash grenades at protesters who were throwing fireworks at them. They then fired tear gas at the hundreds of protesters, dispersing most of the crowd.
At least one person was injured in the confrontation, though it wasn’t immediately clear how.
“They shot him,” one witness told WBTV. “They tried to cover up his blood.”
Firefighters rushed in to pull the man to a waiting ambulance.
Officers on bicycles surrounded a pool of blood on the ground and a few people threw bottles and clods of dirt at police.
The tense standoff continued as police fired small canisters of tear gas into the protesters.
A protester told WBTV the protest was “peaceful” when police started firing tear gas into the crowd.
“They were really rude. They were even rude during our prayers,” she said.
She added that what’s happening is a sickening sight.
“It makes me feel horrible. I have a son, I work, I got to school, I do what I have to do and this pisses me off,” she said.
Protesters looted the Time Warner Cable Arena, which is the home of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. They also looted the NASCAR Hall of Fame, a Buffalo Wild Wings and a Westin, according to the Charlotte Observer.
Protesters are even lighting fires in the streets.
WBTV’s chopper is capturing protesters trying to stop cars and surrounding vehicles on I-277, as it appears objects are being thrown at the cars.
The Hyatt House, a hotel in Charlotte, told WBTV that two employees were assaulted by protesters.
Public defender Toussaint Romain blamed police for the violence.
“If you were to take this camera and look all around, I don’t see the violence, man. Until the police are running at us, until they’re throwing tear gas at you and at me because that’s what happened earlier. Why’d you get tear gassed? Why did I? We weren’t being violent. But if we respond to them in a way that was frustrated and upset telling America, ‘This is enough!’, it doesn’t mean I’m violent man, it means I’ve had enough,” Romain said.
A protester even knocked down CNN reporter Ed Lavandera while he was reporting live.
“We were just doing the report and I didn’t see it coming. All I heard was someone yelling at me that I needed to ‘tell the truth’ and the next thing you know I got kind of blindsided,” Lavandera said.
The CNN reporter added a man later came up to him who claimed to be the one to knock him down and apologized to him.
“Oddly enough, there’s a guy that came up to me a few moments ago and told me was the one who knocked me out. I didn’t see the guy, but he came up to me and actually hugged me and apologized for what he had done. I asked him what had happened, what made him so angry, he didn’t really explain anything. Oddly enough, I’ve lost him now, I’m trying to find him again, kind of just another moment in this surreal evening,” Lavandera said.
Mayor Jennifer Roberts urged for an end to the riots.
“Violence will not help bring our city back together. We are urging people to stay home, stay off the street,” Roberts said, adding that she has been in touch with the White House.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said the State Highway Patrol is sending in troopers to assist the police department and declared a state of emergency.
“Any violence directed toward our citizens or police officers or destruction of property should not be tolerated. I support and commend the law enforcement officials for their bravery and courage during this difficult situation,” McCrory said.
CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported that tensions have reached a boiling point with two very different narratives of what went down. Scott’s family said he was reading a book in his car while waiting for his son. However, police insist Scott was armed with a gun and presented an imminent threat when he got out of the car and wouldn’t drop the weapon.
Destructive protests Tuesday that included shutting down eight-lane Interstate 85 and burning the contents of a tractor-trailer turned violent Wednesday. Along with the man shot to death, paramedics said two other people and six police officers suffered minor injuries.
Wednesday’s protest started as a downtown prayer vigil, but an angry group left the vigil and marched through downtown Charlotte.
They shouted “black lives matter” and “hands up; don’t shoot” while cursing at officers with bicycles blocking intersections. As the protesters approached the Omni hotel, officers in riot gear lined up outside arm in arm and a few marchers threw bottles and clods of dirt.
Immediately after the shooting, police began firing flash grenades and protesters threw fireworks. Police then fired tear gas, and the crowd of hundreds dispersed.
But not all the marchers left. Police in riot gear then began marching arm in arm through downtown Charlotte intersections, shooting tear gas at people who charged them.
There were hints earlier Wednesday that Charlotte would suffer a second night of destruction. As Charlotte’s white mayor and black police chief stood at City Hall and appealed for calm, African-American leaders who said they were speaking for Scott’s family held their own news conference near where he was killed Tuesday, reminding the crowd of other shootings and abuses of black men.
John Barnett, who runs a civil rights group called True Healing Under God, or THUG, warned that the video might be the only way for the police to regain the community’s trust: “Just telling us this is still under investigation is not good enough for the windows of the Wal-Mart.”
On Tuesday night, dozens of demonstrators threw rocks at police and reporters, damaged squad cars, closed part of Interstate 85, and looted and set on fire a stopped truck. Authorities used tear gas to break up the protests. Sixteen officers suffered minor injuries. One person was arrested.
The violence broke out shortly after a woman who appeared to be Scott’s daughter posted a profanity-laced, hourlong video on Facebook, saying her father had an unspecified disability and was unarmed. In the footage, she is at the cordoned-off shooting scene, yelling at officers.
“My daddy is dead!” the woman screams on the video, which has not been authenticated by The Associated Press.
On Wednesday morning, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr 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.”
The police chief said officers were serving arrest warrants on another person when they saw Scott get out of a vehicle with a handgun. A black plainclothes officer in a vest emblazoned “Police” shot Scott after the officer and other uniformed members of the force made “loud, clear” demands that he drop the gun, the chief said.
Putney was adamant that Scott posed a threat, even if he didn’t point his weapon at officers, and said a gun was found next to the dead man. “I can tell you we did not find a book,” the chief said.
Neighbors, though, said that the officer who fired was white and that Scott had his hands in the air.
The three uniformed officers had body cameras; the plainclothes officer did not, police said. But the chief said he cannot release the video because the investigation is still underway. No cellphone video has emerged on social media, as happened in other cases around the country.
The plainclothes officer, identified as Brently Vinson, a two-year member of the department, has been placed on leave, standard procedure in such cases.
Scott has a lengthy criminal record, including convictions in Texas, North Carolina and South Carolina. Texas records showed he was convicted of evading arrest with a vehicle in 2005, and several months later, of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
The unrest took many by surprise in Charlotte, the banking capital of the South with a population of 830,000 people, about 35 percent of them black. The city managed to pull through a racially charged shooting three years ago without the unrest that erupted in recent years in such places as Baltimore, Milwaukee and Ferguson, Missouri.
In 2013, Charlotte police charged one of their own, Randall Kerrick, with voluntary manslaughter days after the white officer shot an unarmed black man who had been in a wreck and was looking for help. The jury deadlocked and the charge was dropped last summer. There were a few protests but no violence.
At the apartment complex where Scott was killed, some people who said they witnessed the shooting told their version with an air of certainty even when they were hundreds of yards away.
Taheshia Williams said her balcony overlooks the shady parking spot where Scott was Tuesday afternoon. She said he often waited there for his son because a bicycle accident several years ago left him stuttering and susceptible to seizures if he stayed out in the hot sun too long.
On Tuesday, she said, Scott had only a book in his hands and was following orders.
“He got out of his car, he walked back to comply, and all his compliance did was get him murdered,” Williams said.
Protesters also took to the streets of New York City. Demonstrators gathered in Union Square and marched up to Times Square.
Police said there were arrests, but did not say how many.
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