Appeal for calm after US police shooting sparks unrest

Charlotte, Sep 21 The mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina appealed for calm today after a night of violent protests and looting sparked by the fatal police shooting of a black man said to have been armed with a handgun.

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Police said 16 officers and several demonstrators were injured in clashes after the shooting death of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, the latest in a string of police involved killings that have fueled outrage across the United States.

"We are calling for peace, we are calling for calm, we are calling for dialogue," Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said. "We understand that with these events everyone has different viewpoints and perspectives."

"That makes it even more important for us to treat each other with dignity and respect and to wait until we have all the information." The shooting occurred at 4:00 PM yesterday in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Charlotte after officers arrived in search of a suspect wanted for arrest, police said.

They spotted a man with a handgun -- later identified as Scott -- exit and then reenter a vehicle, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief Kerr Putney told journalists. Officers approached the man and loudly commanded him to get out and drop the weapon, at which point Scott exited the vehicle armed, according to police.

"He stepped out, posing a threat to the officers, and officer Brentley Vinson subsequently fired his weapon, striking the subject," the police chief said. Putney added, however, that he did not know that Scott "definitively pointed the weapon specifically towards an officer."

Carrying a firearm is legal under local "open carry" gun laws. Scott's relatives told local media that he was not carrying a gun, but had a book in his hands when he was gunned down, which police disputed. "I can tell you a weapon was seized. A hand gun," Putney said.

"I can also tell you we did not find a book that has been made reference to." Putney said Vinson, who joined the force in 2014, was in plain clothes but wearing a vest carrier emblazoned with the police logo, and was backed up by three officers in full uniform.

He said Vinson was not wearing a body camera, but the other officers were. "The videos that I've reviewed I cannot see in totality everything that occurred," Putney said.

AFP

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