Protests erupted in Charlotte after fatal police shooting, leaving 12 officers injured

After police shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott Tuesday afternoon, overnight protests resulted in 12 police officers injured in Charlotte, North Carolina. At first, the protests were peaceful, but later, protesters shouting “Black Lives Matter” and “hands up, don’t shoot” took over Interstate 85 outside of Charlotte and began to throw rocks, bottles, and traffic cones, according to The Charlotte Observer. There were reports and videos of protesters smashing the windows of police vehicles. Later on, there were reports of protesters burning boxes and cargo from trucks stopped on the interstate. At least 12 officers were hospitalized for injuries according to The Washington Post — one of them hit in the face with a rock. Officers in riot gear were using tear gas to break up the protesters and stop looting at a local Walmart, according to WSOC TV.

On Wednesday morning, Charlotte-Mecklenburg mayor Jennifer Roberts gave a press conference with the chief of police, Kerr Putney, and other community leaders. Roberts said the city was working with the department on maintaining full transparency about the shooting Tuesday and that they hoped any further protests would be peaceful. “We ask for peace, we ask for calm, we ask for dialogue,” she said.

The investigation into the shooting itself is still ongoing. Police officers allegedly approached Scott while in his car. The officer who shot him and is also African-American was in plainclothes and wearing a vest that had the police department’s logo on it, Chief Putney said in the press conference. He didn’t have a body cam on him, but there is apparently other video the department is reviewing and will release to the public once they have everything they need for the investigation. Putney says that as officers approached, they identified themselves as police. Scott exited the car with a handgun, but it’s not clear if he was pointing it at police officers. Scott was taken to the Carolinas Medical Center and pronounced dead.

The police department’s account of events varies greatly from that of his family’s account. Scott’s daughter, one of seven children, filmed the immediate aftermath of the shooting. In the video, which is an hour long and could be triggering, the girl says her father was in the car, as he often is, waiting for a sibling to get off a school bus. She said Scott was reading a book and that he had no handgun. Chief Putney said on Wednesday that they recovered a handgun from his vehicle and found no book in the vehicle.

Protests are likely to continue this week as the investigation continues.

Once videos of other police vehicles present at the shooting are reviewed, there might be a better picture of what really went down. The energy behind the protests in Charlotte, and in Tulsa, Oklahoma following last week’s shooting of Terence Crutcher, show just how high tensions are between police officials and the black community. According to The Washington Post, Scott is one of 702 people fatally shot by police officers this year, 163 of them were black. Whether not Scott was armed or was reading isn’t really the most important issue — it’s that officers are shooting way too many civilians, most of them black, way too often.

Something has to change really, really soon.