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Curfew Lifted in Charlotte as Police Shooting Protests Cool

  • VOA News

Police in riot gear block a roadway to stop demonstrators from entering a neighborhood as they protest the police shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S., September 25, 2016.

Police in riot gear block a roadway to stop demonstrators from entering a neighborhood as they protest the police shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S., September 25, 2016.

People were free to move about the eastern U.S. city of Charlotte, North Carolina, Monday after three days of overnight curfews meant to control protests over a deadly shooting by police.

Those protests turned violent during the first few days last week following the shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott. They became more peaceful late in the week with the curfews in place from midnight to 6 a.m. beginning Friday, though police had said they would not enforce the order as long as there were no problems.

Charlotte leaders chose Sunday to cancel the curfew, while dozens of protesters chanted "Black lives matter" outside the professional football game between the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings.

Panthers' star quarterback Cam Newton wore a T-shirt in pregame warm-ups quoting civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., saying, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Watch video report on Charlotte from VOA's Arash Arabasadi:

​The major lingering question about the shooting is whether Scott was armed. Police say he was, while his family says he was sitting in his car reading a book when officers approached him.

The two videos from body cameras and dash cameras from officers confronting Scott were released Saturday after days of calls by protesters to make the footage public.

One of the videos shows Scott getting out of his car and turning to his left, standing in the parking lot for about three seconds before he is shot and seen falling to the ground.

This image made from video provided by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Sept. 24, 2016, shows Keith Scott on the ground as police approach him in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 20, 2016.

This image made from video provided by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Sept. 24, 2016, shows Keith Scott on the ground as police approach him in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 20, 2016.

A second video does not show Scott before he is on the ground. The audio on this video has been removed for the first 23 seconds.

Police said Saturday two plainclothes officers in an unmarked car had been in Scott's neighborhood Tuesday to serve a warrant to someone else when they spotted Scott sitting in his car holding what they believed to be a marijuana joint [cigarette].

Police Chief Kerr Putnam told reporters the officers also believed they saw Scott holding a gun, and reasoned that the combination of drugs and a weapon constituted a threat to public safety.

Putnam said the officers retreated, donned protective gear that was marked "Police," and returned to confront Scott, ordering him loudly to drop his weapon, something that can be heard on the video. Police say Scott did not comply, even after a police officer in a marked SUV (sports utility vehicle) drove up and pounded with his fist on Scott's passenger-side window.

Police said Scott then got out of his vehicle, but did not surrender a weapon, and one of the officers fired the fatal shots.

Putnam defended his officers' actions, saying they acted correctly in firing at Scott because he had marijuana with him at the time and also had a firearm. He said making the videos public was done "in the spirit of transparency."

In their own news conference Saturday, Scott's family questioned how the situation could have turned deadly so quickly. After seeing the video, Scott's brother told reporters, "Unfortunately, now we are left with more questions than answers."

Scott's widow, Rakeyia, has released a recording she made with her mobile phone Tuesday, calling out to police over and over that he was unarmed, and at the same time calling to Scott to obey all police orders and come out of his car.

Neither Rakeyia Scott's video nor the images released by police Saturday show clearly whether Keith Scott was holding a gun. As she yells that he is unarmed, police can be heard shouting at Scott: "Drop the gun!" Gunshots then ring out, and Scott can be seen lying prone in the street.

Arash Arabasadi contributed to this report from Charlotte.

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