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Chief Offers Shooting Details, Defends CMPD Response

Charlotte Mecklenburg police chief Kerr Putney has given more details about a fatal police shooting Tuesday and his department’s response to protests later in northeast Charlotte.

The shooting happened just before 4 p.m., when police went to an apartment off Old Concord Road to serve an arrest warrant. As they searched, they saw a man in a parked car.  A few minutes later, an officer shot and killed the man, 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott.

Family members have said on social media that Scott was unarmed.

Police initially said Scott got out of the car with a gun. But at a press conference this morning, Chief Putney said the man actually went back to the car:

“They saw the weapon in his hand the second time he exited the vehicle.”

Asked if Scott threatened officers, Putney said: "That is a part of the statements we still have yet to get. But at this point, I don’t know that he definitively pointed a weapon specifically towards an officer." 

Police say they’ve recovered a weapon, but Putney didn’t say if it was loaded.

The officer who fired, Brentley Vinson, was not wearing a body cam, according to Putney. The chief said he has viewed other videos and said they don’t show the whole incident.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s North Carolina chapter is calling on CMPD to release the video.  Putney said during the press conference that he doesn’t have to release any police body or dash cam videos to the public while the investigation is continuing.  But that law doesn’t take effect until October 1.

Last night, about a thousand protesters gathered on Old Concord Road near the shooting site. When protesters began throwing rocks, police fired tear gas. Putney defended his action.

"As always our officers try to facilitate demonstrations and protests. They protect the rights of our citizenry. But when that behavior becomes violent, aggressive and destructive, we have to act as we did.

Putney said 16 police officers were hurt.

In keeping with department policy, Officer Vinson, who is African American, has been put on paid administrative leave during the investigation. 

David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.