A North Carolina district attorney announced no charges will be filed against Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Brentley Vinson in the September shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott, which sparked several nights of riots.
Witnesses and family members said Scott was unarmed, but Mecklenburg County District Attorney Andrew Murray said he pulled out a gun from an ankle holster and held it at his side, refusing to drop it despite several commands by several officers.
Vinson, who is black, was the only cop to open fire, according to a full report of the investigation, which you can read here.
It all started on September 20 when police were searching for a suspect with an outstanding warrant at The Village at College Downs.
Vinson was working undercover inside a car when he spotted Scott smoking a joint and holding a gun inside his own car, which made him fear for his life.
When police ordered Scott out of the car, Vinson became even more scared.
“I felt like if I didn’t do anything right then at that point it’s like he…he was gonna shoot me or he’s gonna shoot one a my buddies, um, and it was gonna happen right now,” he explained to investigators.
Investigators say the gun Scott was holding was a Colt .380 with one round in the chamber and the safety turned off, but with no magazine inside the gun.
They say they not only found Scott’s DNA on the gun but evidence that he had purchased the gun for $100 from another man, despite having a felony record making it illegal to own firearms.
Although several witnesses stated at the time that Scott was holding a book when he was shot, police say no book was recovered at the scene.
Protests and Riots
Protesters took to the streets and highways demolishing everything in their paths; even setting sections of interstates ablaze and looting standstill 18-wheeler trucks of its’ cargo.
In fact, the riots were so bad that Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and other big area businesses told their employees to stay home. Additionally multiple protesters filed a joint lawsuit on the Charlotte police chief and the city for a slew of Constitutional rights violations and military grade assaults.
PINAC News obtained the suit, which can be read here.
The National Guard was even brought in at the request of Governor Pat McCrory.
First protesters gathered by the hundreds near the scene of the shooting – standing on police vehicles, breaking the windows of police vehicles & news vans, and flipping over police vehicles. Police vehicles were damaged so much as to the point that many had to be towed away from the scene. Several tow trucks were on site.
Then the protest turned into an aerial assault as protesters began throwing rocks and full water bottles at officers.
In fact, one officer was rushed to the hospital after being hit in the face by a large rock. Additionally 16 officers and three civilians were injured in the protests, including one arrest. By Friday near the end of protests, the injured officer count grew to more than 20 and the arrests grew to more than 100.
On the day of the shooting Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney launched the Civil Emergency Unit (CEU) on scene to give dispersal orders to the protesters.
After an additional dispersal order was ignored by demonstrators, CEU officers deployed tear gas to disperse the unruly demonstrators, who continued to throw objects and damage property.
Eventually crowds made their way to the highway as protesters begin throwing rocks at cars on Interstate 85 and blocking traffic. Tractor trailers stopped by the crowd were looted and contents thrown onto the road.
Additional protesters arrive in both lanes of travel on Interstate 85 and started a fire. Both north and southbound lanes were shutdown. Dispersal orders were given at 3:00 a.m., tear gas was deployed and I-85 reopened at approximately 3:30 a.m.
Protesters moved to the Walmart on North Tryon, where someone throws a rock though a window.
The riots got so intense that another man was shot and killed in center city Charlotte on the second night around 8:00. The victim identified as 26-year-old Justin Carr was shot in the head. The city said the shooting was civilian on civilian, but there are reports that are contrary to that.
Riot police fired tear gas on protesters for the second consecutive night, right in front of the luxurious Omni Hotel.
Police began by announcing the ‘riot act’, they yelled to protesters, “Your life is in danger, you need to move!”Upon that, police fired rubber bullets at the crowd.
But that didn’t stop the crowd from looting and damaging businesses. Vandals kicked in uptown glass doors and windows– once inside they trashed their business of choice and stole whatever they could fine.
The Mayor of the City of Charlotte and the Chairman of Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners declared a State of Emergency which is required in order to bring in state assets including the National Guard.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory released this statement:
“The state has many additional assets nearby to assist. Any violence directed toward our citizens or police officers or destruction of property should not be tolerated.”
The situation got so bad that light rail and bus services were cancelled. National Guard troops with M-16 guns in hand patrolled uptown Thursday to Sunday. There was no more looting or rioting once the National Guard arrived.
Why People Rioted
It takes a huge tipping point for protests, looting, rioting, tear gas, and mass hospitalizations to occur in Charlotte for two consecutive nights. Charlotte is just not known for that, nor has Charlotte had to deal with problems of this magnitude in the past.
Obviously the protesters were tired, hurt, and frustrated. But there is a right and wrong way to protest. Violence is not the answer, looting is not the answer, and property damage is not the answer.
The protesters accumulated a lot of anger from the shootings of unarmed black people across the nation– so when it happens on home turf, it is like a volcanic eruption that spills out of control.
A few days before the riots, reports indicated that club Kandy Bar in Charlotte didn’t allow black patrons in without a membership card, but facebook erupted when white patrons were let in without membership cards.
Club Kandy Bar was looted during the riots.
Perhaps Dr. Martin Luther King said it best:
“A riot is the language of the unheard. I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots.”