CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Demonstrators started a fire and shut down part of Interstate 85 early Wednesday and about 12 police officers were injured and squad cars damaged when protests erupted after an African-American man was shot and killed by another officer.
Police began using tear gas and flash bangs to disperse demonstrators, who police said had been joined by "agitators."
Police were guarding a Walmart store early Wednesday after protesters smashed the store's doors, according to media reports.
Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts appealed for calm.
I will continue to work with our manager & Chief on officer involved shooting. We are reaching out to community to ask for calm.— Mayor of Charlotte (@CLTMayor) September 21, 2016
The protests erupted Tuesday night over the officer-involved shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott, 43. Officers were searching for a suspect with an outstanding warrant Tuesday afternoon at The Village at College Downs when they observed a person — not the suspect they were looking for — inside a vehicle at the apartment complex, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police.
The man exited the vehicle armed with a firearm, then got back in. When officers approached the car, the person got out of the car with the gun again. The officers considered the man to be "an imminent deadly threat to the officers who subsequently fired their weapon striking the subject," officials said.
Emergency responders transported the man to Carolinas Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
Agitators destroying marked police units. CEU continues to work to restore order and protect our community. pic.twitter.com/ZSYSt374w0— CMPD News (@CMPD) September 21, 2016
No officers were injured in that incident. Detectives recovered a firearm and were interviewing witnesses.
The officer who fired the fatal shot was Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Brentley Vinson, a police statement said. Both Scott and Vinson are African American, the Charlotte Observer reported.
Vinson was placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure, the Observer reported.
Racial tensions are high across the country in the wake of other officer-involved shootings. The shooting death of an unarmed black man named Terence Crutcher on Friday night in Tulsa came under the spotlight Monday as video footage that captured the encounter circulated on social media.
As night fell, a crowd of about 100 people gathered, chanting in protest, the Associated Press reported. Police blocked access to the area, which is about a mile from the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
"People get upset when we say 'black lives matter, black lives matter,' ” said a student. "But these are the people we have to focus on the most because these types of situations always happen."
(© 2016 WCNC)