Charlotte police refuse to release video of fatal shooting, as curfew is imposed on tense city
Charlotte police refused under mounting pressure to release video that could resolve wildly different accounts of the shooting of a black man, as the National Guard arrived to try to head off a third night of violence in this city on edge, where the mayor ordered a midnight curfew.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said Thursday that releasing police dashcam and body camera footage of the police killing of 43-year Keith Lamont Scott could undermine the investigation. He told reporters the video will be made public when he believes there is a “compelling reason” to do so.
“You shouldn’t expect it to be released,” Putney said. “I’m not going to jeopardise the investigation.”
Mayor Jennifer Roberts signed an order imposing a curfew from midnight to 6 am as protesters marched through the streets, their numbers smaller than on previous nights. Some carried signs; others had bandannas to cover their faces. They chanted, “No justice! No peace.”
A crowd of protesters left a Charlotte park on Thursday evening and wound through the city’s streets as officers with bikes looked on.
“Release the tape!” they chanted. “Release the tape!”
Authorities facing some of the most intense reactions seen in more than two years of protests over policing nationwide vowed a strong law enforcement response to the unrest, declaring a state of emergency after two nights of chaos on the streets here. National Guard Humvees rumbled down streets still littered with broken glass Thursday, passing through areas where businesses remained closed and many people stayed home because of the chaos.
Protesters here were peaceful early Thursday night but, as the night went on, they grew tense as police in riot gear blocked roads as the crowds grew restive.
At one point protesters outside the Mecklenburg County Jail chanted, “No justice no peace.” Inmates flicked the lights and waved as the crowd yelled, “set our brothers free!”
Police have said that Scott was shot to death Tuesday by a black officer after he disregarded loud, repeated warnings to drop a gun. Neighbours, though, have said he was holding only a book. The police chief said a gun was found next to the dead man, and there was no book.
Putney said that he has seen the video and it does not contain “absolute, definitive evidence that would confirm that a person was pointing a gun.” But he added: “When taken in the totality of all the other evidence, it supports what we said.”
Justin Bamberg, an attorney for Scott’s family, said the family was shown the video Thursday. He refused to discuss its content with television crews outside of police headquarters, just saying “there are some things to digest.”
Additional reporting by The Washington Post