One critically injured after Black Lives Matter shooting

People maneuver amongst tear gas in uptown Charlotte, NC (Reuters)
People maneuver amongst tear gas in uptown Charlotte, NC (Reuters)

One person has been shot and gravely wounded in a second night of unrest in Charlotte, North Carolina, officials said, as riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse unruly protesters after the fatal police shooting of a black man.

A state of emergency was later declared amid the unrest, and the National Guard and state highway patrol troopers were to be sent to help police in Charlotte.

Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney initially reported that a person shot during the protest had died, but city officials later posted a Twitter message saying the individual was in hospital in critical condition on life support.

The city also said the gunshot was fired by one civilian at another, not by police. A police officer was also being treated for injuries suffered during the protests, the city said.

Putney told Fox News: "We're trying to disperse the crowd. We've been very patient, but now they've become very aggressive, throwing bottles and so forth, at my officers, so it's time for us now to restore order."

The flashpoint for Charlotte's unrest was Tuesday's fatal police shooting of Keith Scott, 43, who according to police was armed with a handgun and refused officers' orders to drop the weapon. His family and a witness to the shooting said Scott was holding a book, not a firearm.

Governor Pat McCrory said he was sending officers from the state Highway Patrol to assist local law enforcement at the request of Charlotte's police chief.

The latest trouble began with a peaceful rally that turned violent after several hundred demonstrators, chanting, "Black lives matter" and "No justice, no peace," marched through downtown with brief stops at a black church, police headquarters and a large entertainment venue called the EpiCentre.

As they approached downtown Charlotte's central intersection, protesters confronted a column of patrol cars and officers in front of the Omni Charlotte Hotel and began to surround groups of police and their vehicles.

Police then unleashed volleys of rubber bullets, tear gas and flash-bang grenades to disperse the protesters, who began hurling fireworks and debris at officers outside the hotel.

The confrontation grew more intense as a phalanx of helmeted police carrying shields advanced down a street, pushing back a crowd of demonstrators who scurried for cover as officers fired more tear gas.

A Charlotte resident, who gave his name only as Howard, told Reuters that the man shot Wednesday night was standing directly in front of him.

"My first thought was it was non-lethal because police were shooting rubber bullets," he said. However, the man lay on the ground motionless for a couple of minutes before someone rolled him over and blood was coming from his head, the witness said.

Scott's wife, Rakeyia, issued a statement describing her family as "devastated" and appealing for calm.

"We have more questions than answers about Keith's death," the statement said.

Sixteen officers were injured late on Tuesday and early Wednesday as police in riot gear clashed with demonstrators who hurled stones, set fires and briefly blocked an interstate highway.