North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has declared a state of emergency in Charlotte after a man was shot in the head by a civilian as a peaceful protest over the fatal police shooting of a black man turned ugly.
The man is on life support, but was not wounded by a police officer, during the demonstration outside the Omni Hotel as the city saw a second night of unrest following the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott by a black police officer.
Charlotte Medic said it has taken eight patients – seven police officers and one civilian – to area hospitals during protests over the police shooting of Scott.
On social media, Gov. McCrory said he has declared a state of emergency and is sending in the National Guard and Highway Patrol to assist local law enforcement in the city.
‘I want to assure the people of North Carolina that our SBI [State Bureau of Investigation] has already been assisting the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department throughout the last 24 hours,’ he said in a statement on Facebook.
‘Upon a very recent request of Chief Putney, the State Highway Patrol is sending in troopers to further help the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department.’
He added: ‘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.’
Ryan James, who was at the protest said he saw a civilian fire a pistol ‘indiscriminately’ outside the Omni Hotel before fleeing.
‘There was a loud pop, then panic and confusion. Standing about 10 yards away, I looked down the barrel of a pistol,’ he wrote in a first-person piece for The Daily Beast.
James said the shooter was a black male and that he stood at the intersection of East Trade and South College streets with the weapon still aimed before running away.
After the shooting of the protester, demonstrators began throwing bottles, dirt clods and fireworks at the officers. The police fired flash grenades and then tear gas back, dispersing the crowd of several hundred.
Protesters responded by hurling trash cans and potted plants.
But groups of protesters kept marching around downtown, followed by police in riot gear who continued to fire tear gas at them.
‘It seemed to me the shot came from within the crowd,’ said one man who was just three feet from where the dreadlocked man fell.
‘He fell face down. Then people crowded around him. Then, after a few seconds they were pushed back and a firefighter and another man lifted him up and carried him into the lobby of the Omni.’
‘It’s come to this. We had a nice march, but a few people came here to make trouble,’ protester Tongie Antunes told DailyMail.com. ‘It makes all African Americans look bad.’
But activist James Tyson, who gave aid to the shot protester, questioned the police version of events saying he saw no evidence of gunshots from the crowd.
‘There was no gunshot,’ he told DailyMail.com exclusively. ‘There were no flash bangs, no concussion grenades at that time.’
Tyson said he had gone along to the protest armed with first aid gear to act as a street medic. ‘I knew things were going to get bad tonight after what happened yesterday,’ he said. ‘He walked a couple of steps and then just dropped,’
Tyson, 31, said he was applying pressure to the man’s neck to staunch the bleeding, until members of the fire department arrived and took over.
‘He must have lost two or three points of blood.’
Meanwhile, a video surfaced on social media that purportedly showed a white man drive into the crowd of demonstrators and brandish a gun before he was allowed to drive away from the scene.
‘White dude drives into crowd of peaceful protesters, draws gun, allowed to drive away alive. With my own eyes. #CharlotteProtest,’ wrote Heather Head on Twitter alongside the shocking clip.
At 8.56pm, police declared the crowd an ‘unlawful assembly’ and ordered everyone to disperse saying anyone remaining in the vicinity would be subject to arrest.
But instead of leaving the crowd assembled at the junction of Trade and College Streets and raised their hands.
As the protesters refused to leave police in riot gear responded with tear gas.
And at 9.16pm, CNN reporter Ed Lavandera was body slammed by a protester while reporting live from the scene.
Lavandera had been reporting to Anderson Cooper when a man assaulted him, causing him to fall to the ground.
‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’re fine, Anderson, we’re fine,’ Lavandera told Cooper. ‘It’s just someone taking out their frustrations on me.’
The protest at the police shooting of Keith Scott had started peacefully at 7pm in Charlotte’s Marshall Park with chants of ‘No justice, no peace.’
But as the crowd marched through downtown it got ugly.
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.
Meanwhile, groups of college students descended on the condominium complex parking lot where Scott was shot and killed by Brentley Vinson, a black Charlotte police officer, on Tuesday afternoon.
One group of students came from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, about 80 miles away. Others came from Guilford College, also in Greensboro.
Before nightfall, a memorial was set up at the site where Scott was shot.
People prayed and held candles, and flowers were placed beneath a table. The prayer vigil over the fatal police shooting turned into a protest march through downtown.
Several hundred marchers were angry, but peaceful as they shouted slogans like ‘Hands up; don’t shoot’ and ‘Black lives matter’ outside downtown landmarks.
Police blocked off streets, and some protesters yelled and pointed at them, but officers did not react.
It comes after Tuesday’s protest, which turned violent and protesters threw rocks and damaged police vehicles.
The protests lasted throughout the night, damaging police cars, causing minor injuries to about a dozen officers and closing down a part of Interstate 85 not far from the shooting scene.
Charlotte’s police chief Kerr Putney said 43-year-old Scott refused multiple warnings to drop a handgun before he was fatally shot.
But a woman claiming to be Scott’s daughter posted a video to Facebook soon after the shooting, saying that her father had an unspecified disability.
She said he was unarmed when he was shot, adding that he had been reading a book, not brandishing a weapon.
But Putney says officers recovered a gun, but no book when officers searched him and his vehicle.
The North Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union urged Charlotte police to release any footage from body or dashboard cameras of a fatal shooting this week.
The ACLU noted that a new North Carolina law that restricts the release of such footage doesn’t take effect until October 1.
That new law says footage from police body or dashboard cameras can’t be released publicly without a court order.
Karen Anderson, executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina, issued a statement that said the Charlotte police department should release any footage in the interest of transparency.
Charlotte’s police chief has said the officer who shot Keith Lamont Scott was not wearing a body camera, but chief Kerr Putney also says he cannot release body camera and dashboard camera video from other officers because of the ongoing investigation.
Scott’s mother, Vernita Walker of Charleston, South Carolina, told The Charlotte Observer that her son had seven children.
‘He was a family man . And he was a likable person. And he loved his wife and his children,’ she told the newspaper.
Scott has a criminal record in three states, including Texas, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Mecklenburg County records matching Keith Lamont Scott’s name and birth date show Scott was charged in April 2004 with multiple counts, including felony assault with a deadly weapon.
Records show that most of the charges were dismissed, and he pleaded guilty to a single charge of misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon.
Texas records show that he was convicted of evading arrest with a vehicle in 2005, and several months later of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
In 1992 in South Carolina, records show Scott pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Court records also show a misdemeanor assault conviction in North Carolina from 2004.
Records from nearby Gaston County show that Scott pleaded guilty to driving while impaired in 2015.
A woman who identified herself as an advocate for Scott’s family, Annette Albright, said at a news conference that he shouldn’t be ‘re-victimized’ because of things he did in the past.
She told reporters: ‘What he was doing at the time of the shooting is what’s relevant.’