Charlotte and Tulsa erupt after police shootings
Charlotte, N.C. erupted in violent protests Tuesday, after a black police officer shot a black man who reportedly had a gun. Twelve police officers were injured in the ensuing melee.
In Tulsa, OK, protests also occurred after release of a police video showing a white female police officer shooting a black man, Terence Crutcher, who had his hands up, but reached toward the interior of his SUV.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Keith Lamont Scott was reportedly sitting inside his vehicle in the parking lot of an apartment complex when Charlotte-Mecklenberg officers came to serve a warrant for someone else. Police stated that he exited his car with a gun, and a gun was found. The family says he had a book, but police say no book was found.
The witnesses said he got out of his car with a gun and was shot by Officer Brentley Vinson. It is unclear whether he pointed that gun at the officer. The officer was not wearing a body camera, even though their department had received federal money to purchase the technology.
At least one police car was damaged, multiple persons assaulted, and 12 police officers were injured in the rioting.
The Tuesday afternoon shooting set off an angry crowd, which grew as the hours passed.
Some threw bottles and rocks at officers working to control the protesters, but others implored them to stop.
“That’s when things really started to pick up. I would say not long before 11 p.m., police deployed tear gas … as they tried to clear the streets,” said Adam Rhew, associate editor for Charlotte magazine.
After a brief lull, a crowd regrouped early Wednesday and blocked Interstate 85, one of two major expressways running through Charlotte. Some started a fire at the center of the highway, forcing vehicles and tractor-trailers to stall as far as the eye could see.
Other protesters removed boxes from the back of semitrailers and set the items on fire. Police in riot gear formed a line and forced crowds away from the highway.
Shortly after, the highway partially opened, but some protesters remained and continued chanting. Others jumped on top of a police van and stomped on it, breaking the windshield and other windows.
The video of the incident in Tulsa is disturbing. A man whose car was disabled, and maybe thought police were coming to help him lost his life. The black man, Terence Crutcher, is seen with his hands up walking toward his SUV, and officer Betty Shelby pointing her gun at him.
The 2nd officer arrives and tasers Crutcher at the same moment Shelby fires. Mr. Crutcher appears to reach toward the interior of the SUV. No gun was found.
Videos, attitudes, and skin color
Both officers involved in the fatal shootings are on administrative leave pending the investigations.
While the shooting in Charlotte appears on the surface to be justified based on evidence and witness accounts, the one in Tulsa may be a tragic error that may be investigated as a homicide or manslaughter
What’s missing- the reason why Mr. Crutcher walked back towards the SUV against what the officer commanded, and what the conversation at that point was. He had been arrested previously for carrying a concealed weapon and resisting arrest in 1996, though reports say that he had no record for the last 20 years.
We don’t see the video as definitive evidence if the shooting of Terence Crutcher by Officer Betty Shelby was justified or not. Based on unreleased details, it could go either way. If the shooting was accidental, then it would certainly be negligent. People should wait for the investigation to unfold before cementing in their minds if the shooting was justified or not.