Crime and Punishment

Police in Charlotte, North Carolina, fatally shoot man they say was armed

A protester displays a placard at the Union Square in New York on April 14, 2015 during a demonstration against police brutality.
Jewel Samad | AFP | Getty Images

Tensions flared in Charlotte, North Carolina on Tuesday after police fatally shot a man in the parking lot of an apartment complex, saying he got out of his car armed with a gun as officers approached him.

As darkness fell on Charlotte following the shooting a crowd of protesters gathered near the scene and local WSCOC-TV reported they blocked a road leading to the apartment complex as police in riot gear stood by.

"Demonstrators surrounded our officers who were attempting to leave the scene," the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said on Twitter, adding that a "civil emergency unit" had been deployed to safely remove them.

The fatal shooting came amid an intense ongoing national debate over the use of deadly force by police, especially against young black men.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers were at an apartment complex searching for a suspect with an outstanding warrant shortly before 4 p.m. when they saw a man get out of his vehicle with a firearm, public affairs officer Keith Trietley said in a written statement.

"Officers observed the subject get back into the vehicle at which time they began to approach the subject. The subject got back out of the vehicle armed with a firearm and posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers who subsequently fired their weapon striking the subject," Trietley said.

The victim, identified by police as 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, was transported to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, where he was pronounced dead, according to Trietley.

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Police did not immediately say if Scott was the suspect they had originally sought at the apartment complex. WSOC-TV reported that he was not.

A man identified by WCNC-TV as the victim's brother told the station that the officer involved in the shooting was undercover and not wearing a uniform.

"I think he shot him four times, I'm not sure but he's dead," the man told WCNC. The station did not identify him by name.

Police recovered the gun that the subject was holding at the time of the shooting and witnesses were being interviewed, Trietley said.

The officer who shot Scott was identified as Bradley Vinson, who has been on the force since July 2014.

Trietley said the department's internal affairs bureau would conduct a separate investigation and that Vinson had been placed on administrative leave.

The shooting came as the lawyer for family members of an unarmed black man fatally shot by a white Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer, in an incident captured on video, said he posed no imminent threat.

About 200 people gathered for a peaceful protest in front of Tulsa's Civic Center Plaza on Tuesday night, holding signs reading: "Justice 4 Crutch" and calling for Shelby to be arrested.

In August, a 29-year-old deaf driver from Charlotte was fatally shot by a North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper during a traffic stop.

The state's top safety official has said that incident was being reviewed by the district attorney, the Highway Patrol and State Bureau of Investigation.

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