All lanes of Interstate 85 were reopened early Wednesday but still littered with some rocks and glass after a night of protests over an officer-involved shooting of an African-American man in the University City area. The officer was also African-American.
Twelve police officers were injured Tuesday night in a series of clashes, and reports were coming in early Wednesday of motorists on Interstate 85 being hurt and their vehicles damaged when protestors threw rocks, bottles and traffic cones off interstate overpasses onto traffic below.
At least seven of the police officers needed to be hospitalized after the clashes, including one who was hit in the face with a rock.
Mayor Jennifer Roberts sent out a message on Twitter early Wednesday, noting: “I will continue to work with our manager and (police) chief…We are reaching out to community to ask for calm.”
In addition to Interstate 85, protestors attacked and looted the Walmart on North Tryon Street at about 3:30 a.m. The store was closed early Wednesday, with wooden pallets piled in front of the doors and shopping carts blocking the driveway into the lot.
Three or more tractor trailer trucks were stopped and looted on Interstate 85, and at least two fires were started on the interstate, as the protestors burned items taken from the trucks.
Motorists were reportedly stuck on Interstate 85 for hours at the height of the protests, which ignited at a time when the nation has seen a spate of police shootings of black men, which has led to protests from Ferguson, Mo., to Tulsa to Chicago and started the Black Lives Matter movement.
Police have not released details on how many people were arrested, but some media outlets were reporting five people were taken into custody. The neighborhood where the incident occurred was quiet Wednesday, aside from a large media presence.
Charlotte’s Tuesday night protests began on Old Concord Road at Bonnie Lane, where a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer fatally shot a man in the parking lot of a University City apartment complex Tuesday afternoon.
The man who died was identified late Tuesday as Keith Lamont Scott, 43, and the officer who fired the fatal shot was CMPD Officer Brentley Vinson, a police statement said.
Police said they had been searching for someone who had an outstanding warrant at The Village at College Downs complex on Old Concord Road when they saw Scott leave his car holding a gun.
Officers approached Scott after he got back into the car. He emerged from the car again armed with a firearm “and posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers, who subsequently fired their weapon striking the subject,” police said in a statement. “The officers immediately requested Medic and began performing CPR.”
Medic took Scott to Carolinas Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Scott was not the person officers were searching for to arrest on the outstanding warrants, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney told reporters later.
Police said they recovered the firearm Scott was holding. But a woman who said she is Scott’s daughter claimed on a live-streamed video on Facebook that Scott was unarmed when he was shot. The video went viral, with more than 521,000 views by 9:30 p.m.