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Protesters seek details and accountability in Gastonia police shooting of 21-year-old

Lipscomb protest 1.jpeg
Ann Doss Helms
/
WFAE
About 20 people gathered in downtown Gastonia on Friday to protest the fatal shooting of Jason Lipscomb by Gastonia police.

About 20 people gathered in downtown Gastonia Friday to demand answers and accountability after Gastonia police fatally shot a 21-year-old man on July 20.

Gastonia police say their officers shot Jason Lipscomb after he tried to flee in a vehicle and hit an officer who was on foot.

The incident started when someone called 911 to report that Lipscomb had picked up two young children from Precious Moments child care center, even though he was not authorized and they were not his children. The Gaston Gazette has reported that the caller said Lipscomb had a child by a woman who was related to the children he picked up and was frustrated because he could not see his own child.

A Facebook post from the center said "Mr. Jason" had a child at the center. It said he was actively involved and respectful of staff and offered condolences to his family.

The children, ages 1 and 3, were found safe with Lipscomb, but Lipscomb died after he ran to a car and tried to pull away. Officers fired multiple times into the car.

Speakers at the protest questioned why officers got so close to a car where they knew the driver was trying to escape, then fired repeatedly in a neighborhood full of homes and apartments.

"Police completely showed a disregard of our people and our community in making sure to shoot round after round after this young man in a residential neighborhood with families and children present," said Sean Bates.

Lipscomb protest 2.jpeg
Ann Doss Helms
/
WFAE
Protesters turn their backs and raise their fists after Gaston County sheriff's deputies told them they couldn't protest within 300 feet of the courthouse doors.

"They could have hit anyone with that excessive fire," said Scotty Reid. "Once a round leaves a barrel, you can’t control where it goes. It can ricochet."

There have been several protests since the shooting, as the State Bureau of Investigation looks into the incident. Bates said the community won’t stop pushing for answers.

"What we do know," he said, "is a young, unarmed Black man’s life was taken with extreme prejudice."

After rallying outside the Gaston County social services office, the groups crossed the street to the courthouse, where deputies told them to disperse.

Lipscomb’s family members were not present. Their lawyer says they’ve been grieving and are not involved with the protests.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.