Protesters flocked to Charlotte for a third straight night Thursday in the latest sign of mounting pressure for police to release video that might resolve the different accounts of the shooting death of a black man.
There were contentious moments between demonstrators and police, but it was a far cry from the looting and destruction that was seen Wednesday night. Local officers’ ranks were augmented by members of the National Guard carrying rifles and guarding office buildings against the threat of property damage.
People chanted “release the tape” and “we want the tape” while briefly blocking an intersection near Bank of America headquarters and later climbing the steps in front of the city government center. Later, several dozen demonstrators climbed onto an interstate highway through the city, but they were pushed back by police in riot gear.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have resisted the calls to release dashcam and body camera footage of the death of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott earlier this week. His family was shown the footage Thursday and demanded that police release it to the public. The family’s lawyer said he couldn’t definitively tell whether Scott was holding a gun.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on “The Kelly File” that the decision to release the video was not up to him, but added “I think [releasing the footage] is probably the better option right now.”
Putney said that local police were no longer leading the investigation into Tuesday’s shooting and the decision to release the footage rested with the State Bureau of Investigation.
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts signed documents Thursday night for the citywide curfew that runs from midnight to 6 a.m. But demonstrators continued to march after the curfew took effect, and Police Capt. Mike Campagna told reporters that officers wouldn’t seek to move curfew violators off the street as long as they were peaceful. The demonstrators’ ranks appeared to thin from their peak of several hundred as the early morning arrived.
Scores of rioters Wednesday night attacked reporters and others, set fires and smashed windows of hotels, office buildings and restaurants in the city’s bustling downtown section. The NASCAR Hall of Fame was among the places damaged.
Forty-four people were arrested after Wednesday’s protests, and one protester who was shot died at the hospital Thursday; city officials said police did not shoot the man and no arrests have been made in 26-year-old Justin Carr’s death.
There were no reports of arrests Thursday night. Police said only two officers were hurt after they were sprayed with a chemical agent by demonstrators.
Police have said that Scott was shot to death Tuesday by a black officer after he disregarded loud, repeated warnings to drop his gun. Neighbors, 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 acknowledged on “The Kelly File” that the video “is not the most definitive piece of evidence we would have hoped for,” but added “there is a lot of other evidence that gives us a great deal of support and comfort.”
Justin Bamberg, an attorney for Scott’s family, watched the video with the slain man’s relatives. He said Scott gets out of his vehicle calmly.
“While police did give him several commands, he did not aggressively approach them or raise his hands at members of law enforcement at any time. It is impossible to discern from the videos what, if anything, Mr. Scott is holding in his hands,” Bamberg said in a statement.
Scott was shot as he walked slowly backward with his hands by his side, Bamberg said.
The lawyer said at a news conference earlier in the day that Scott’s wife saw him get shot, “and that’s something she will never, ever forget.” That is the first time anyone connected with the case has said the wife witnessed the shooting. Bamberg gave no details on what the wife saw.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.