Charlotte police shooting: Protests mostly peaceful

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — This time, the protest had more handshakes and hugs than looting and fires.

Protesters marched in Charlotte for a third night over the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott — remaining largely peaceful as they made their way down the streets.

Although the city had announced a curfew would go into effect after midnight early Friday, police did not force protesters to leave.

While mostly peaceful, a far cry from the previous two nights, throngs of protesters expressed their outrage over Scott’s death by circling the police department and the city jail.

They raised their hands to signify “don’t shoot” and lay down on the ground as if they’d been shot.

‘We let things get out of hand’

The previous two nights were rocked by violence that left one man dead after police said he was shot by a civilian during Wednesday’s protest.

“A lot of community leaders were out there the entire time to keep it peaceful,” said Tyler Hickey, a UNC Charlotte student who attended the protests.

“This is the right way to do it. Last night, we messed up. We let things get out of hand. But tonight, we were going to show the world that this is how we come together to protest.”

Some protesters hugged National Guard members, shook their hands or took pictures with them. Antonique Alexander went a step further, pinning a flower on a police officer’s lapel.

“I drove back to support my city. My city needed me,” said Alexander, 21, a senior at UNC Greensboro.

The night didn’t go entirely without incident.

Protesters briefly tried to block a highway, but were quickly met by tear gas and dispersed. Charlotte police said two of its officers were treated after protesters sprayed them with a chemical agent. It was unclear what agent was used.

How the third night unfolded

Shortly after midnight Friday, some demonstrators left on their own, even though authorities did not move in to enforce the curfew.

Enforcing the curfew had “not been necessary,” said Capt. Mike Campagna of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

“It’s been a very peaceful group tonight. There’s been a lot of people inside the group helping to make that happen … The curfew is there, we can use it as a tool if necessary if things go sideways and hopefully that just won’t be the case.”

At the beginning of the night, protesters held a vigil for Justin Carr, 26, the man shot during Wednesday’s protests. They stood at the corner where he was shot and prayed for him.

“We want the tape’

Protesters chanted “We want the tape!” and questioned why the public couldn’t see the police footage surrounding Scott’s shooting. Some perceived it as lacking transparency, fueling widespread anger in Charlotte.

“The main demand was we want more transparency,” said Hickey, who attended all three nights of the protest. “We understand that not all police officers are bad, not all police officers did the wrong thing.”

Alex Orange, 26, spent the night holding a mirror in his hand toward the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

“Some people do a lot of bad, and sometimes you need to see your reflection in the mirror,” he said.

Like many protesters, Orange believes Scott was wrongfully killed. But he said he’s willing to change his mind if police footage shows the shooting was justified.

The problem is, the public can’t see the footage.

“Why are they keeping the video?” he asked. “That would help us know what’s going on.”

What the video shows

Charlotte-Mecklenberg police Chief Kerr Putney told reporters Thursday that he has no plans to release the video of Scott’s death because he doesn’t want to jeopardize the investigation.

“Transparency’s in the eye of the beholder,” Putney said. “If you think we should display a victim’s worst day for public consumption, that is not the transparency I’m speaking of.”

Putney later told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer the decision wouldn’t be his to make much longer anyway, as the investigation is being turned over to North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation.

Scott’s family has said he was reading a book when police officers approached his vehicle and shot him Tuesday. But Putney said Scott was armed and no book was found at the scene.

Scott’s family watched two police videos of the incident, and said they couldn’t tell what was in his hands when he was fatally shot.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts also watched the videos.

“It is not a very clear picture, and the gun in question is a small gun and it was not easy to see with the way the motion was happening,” she told Anderson Cooper.

The video does not provide “definitive visual evidence” that Scott pointed a gun at police officers, including Brentley Vinson, who shot him, the police chief said.

The family said the video showed Scott acting calmly and nonaggressively on Tuesday, the day he was shot. Scott didn’t own a gun or habitually carry a gun, family attorney Justin Bamberg said.

“When he was shot and killed, Mr. Scott’s hands were by his side and he was slowly walking backward,” he said.

The family wants police to immediately release the videos to the public, Bamberg said.

State law

North Carolina recently passed a law that blocks the release of police recordings from body or dashboard cameras with limited exceptions. That law is set to take effect in October.

CNN’s Ed Lavandera, Eliott C. McLaughlin, Boris Sanchez and Brian Todd contributed to this report

By Holly Yan and Madison Park

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