LGBT student shot by Georgia police told officers to 'shoot me'

Warning: This video contains content which may disturb some people.

Protests have broken out at a US university after an LGBT student activist was shot dead by police officers outside a campus dormitory.

Police say 21-year-old Scout Schultz, who went by 'they'/'them' pronouns, had approached the officers armed with a knife, outside a dorm on Sunday (local time) at Georgia Tech.

Video obtained by the Associated Press shows officers repeatedly telling Shultz to "drop it" and "drop the knife", backing away with their firearms aimed, as the student continued to approach.

"Nobody wants to hurt you. Drop the one," one officer can be heard saying.

In response, Schultz can be heard calling, "Shoot me!"

After more than a minute, as Schultz continues to advance on the officers, a single shot can be heard, followed by Schultz screaming.

A lawyer for Schultz's family has criticised the officers as overreacting, telling local media Schultz appeared to be having a mental breakdown and "didn't know what to do".

The fourth-year computer engineering student, who was non-binary and intersex, had a history of depression and had twice attempted suicide, their mother Lynne told local media.

"Why didn't they use some nonlethal force, like pepper spray or Tasers?" Ms Schultz said.

The responding officers don't carry Tasers but do have pepper spray, the campus said.

Students have been warned to stay inside and secure due to "violent protests" on campus, Georgia Tech said.

There have been several reports of injured police officers and cars being set on fire.

The Schultz family have condemned the violence, asking those who wanted to protest to "do so peacefully".

"Answering violence with violence is not the answer," they said in a statement.

"Scout's family respects the rights of those who wish to voice opposition to what they feel is an unnecessary use of force, but they ask that it be done respectfully."