Charlotte police chief: Man killed in shooting had gun, not book

CHARLOTTE (WTVD) -- Charlotte-Mecklenburg Chief Kerr Putney told reporters at a Wednesday morning news conference that a handgun was found at the scene of a fatal officer-involved shooting, but no book.

"It's time to change the narrative, because I can tell you from the facts that the story's a little bit different as to how it's been portrayed so far, especially through social media," he said.

Putney was referring to claims by the family of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott that he was unarmed when he was shot by Officer Brentley Vinson Tuesday, and instead was holding a book.

Putney said officers gave Scott multiple warnings to put down a handgun before fatally shooting him.

Putney said police initially went to an apartment complex on the city's northeast side looking for a suspect with an outstanding warrant. Police said Scott was not the suspect officers were searching for, but he got out of a vehicle with a firearm. Putney said the officers told Scott to drop the gun and that he got out of the vehicle a second time still carrying the gun. He said Scott was shot because he posed a threat.

Scott's family quickly challenged the police account of the fatal shooting after it happened Tuesday, saying he was not armed and that Scott, a father of seven, was holding a book and waiting for his son to be dropped off from school.

Speaking to the International Bar Association Wednesday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch addressed the Charlotte shooting.

"The Department of Justice is aware of, and we are assessing, the incident that led to the death of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte. We are in regular contact with local authorities as their investigation into the shooting begins to unfold," she said.

Continuing, Lynch said:

"These tragic incidents have once again left Americans with feelings of sorrow, anger and uncertainty. They have once again highlighted - in the most vivid and painful terms - the real divisions that still persist in this nation between law enforcement and communities of color. And in Charlotte, they have once again led to widespread protest. Unfortunately, we saw several instances of violence during the protests and 12 police officers and a number of demonstrators were injured as a result. Protest is protected by our Constitution and is a vital instrument for raising issues and creating change. But when it turns violent, it undermines the very justice that it seeks to achieve and I urge those demonstrating in Charlotte to remain peaceful in their expressions of protest and concern."

At a separate news conference religious leaders called for an independent investigation of the shooting and asked African Americans for an economic boycott of Charlotte.

Following the shooting, protesters in Charlotte clashed with police in riot gear Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning.

Seven Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers were taken to the hospital along with one civilian. Many more reportedly had minor injuries as protesters threw numerous objects, including rocks and water bottles, at police officers. One officer was hit in the face with a rock.

The protests spilled onto Interstate 85, blocking the highway for hours.

Hundreds of protesters blocked the streets.

Protesters targeted police cruisers. One damaged vehicle was towed away.

WATCH: Agitators vandalize Charlotte police vehicle
EMBED More News Videos

Protesters in Charlotte vandalize police vehicles.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts tweeted late Tuesday evening: "I will continue to work with our manager & Chief on officer involved shooting. We are reaching out to community to ask for calm.

The community deserves answers and full investigation will ensue. Will be reaching out to community leaders to work together"

At one point, protesters began a chant of "black lives matter." Scott was black. Officer Vinson is also black.

Vinson was placed on paid administrative leave. Vinson has been employed with the CMPD since July 21, 2014, and is assigned to the Metro Division.

When hundreds of protesters gathered to demonstrate the shooting Tuesday night, police blocked access to the area, which is about a mile from the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Early Wednesday morning, the unrest raged on as a group of people blocked traffic on I-85. A live video feed from a WSOC-TV helicopter hovering above the scene appeared to show people removing items from the back of trucks on the highway.

The scene on I-85 appeared to devolve into looting, with people pulling items from tractor-trailers and burning boxes.

A group of people attempted to break in to a Walmart, WSOC-TV reported, and scattered when police arrived at the scene.

"What happened last night is disheartening," Walmart spokesperson Erica Jones told ABC11. "We're glad all of our associates are safe. We're continuing to work with police to follow the situation and determine when our store will re-open."

Report a Typo
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.