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Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney said Wednesday that a black man fatally shot by officers Tuesday was armed with a handgun, disputing the man's family's claim that he was holding a book at the time of the shooting.
Putney could not say definitively whether the man, 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, raised the weapon and pointed it toward an officer.
“He did have a weapon when he exited the vehicle,” Putney said. “Officers were giving loud, clear verbal commands. The suspect exited the vehicle with a handgun, threatening officers.”
The statement from police comes after a night of unrest in the city where protesters took to the streets, throwing rocks and damaging multiple vehicles. Putney said one protester was arrested and 16 officers were injured.
“It's time to change the narrative, because I can tell you from the facts that the story's a little bit different as to how it's been portrayed so far, especially through social media,” Putney said.
On Tuesday, around 4 p.m., officers were searching for a suspect with an outstanding warrant at an apartment complex, Putney said during Wednesday's press conference. Officers approached Scott when they saw him in his vehicle and gave him “loud and clear commands” to exit the car.
Putney said that Scott then exited the car armed with a handgun and officers yelled at him to drop the weapon. When Scott did not put the gun down, Putney said the man was perceived as a threat and Officer Brentley Vinson, who is also black, fired his gun striking Scott.
Detectives investigating the shooting recovered a handgun at the scene, Putney said.
On Monday night, a man identifying himself as Scott’s brother told Fox 46 Scott was holding a book at the time of the shooting, rather than a gun. But the Charlotte police chief disputed that assertion.
“I can tell you a handgun was seized,” Putney said. “I can tell you we did not find a book.”
Putney went on to say that Vinson, the officer who shot Scott, was in plain clothes with a vest that had a police logo on it. He was not wearing a body camera. Three other uniformed officers were equipped with body cameras but Putney said he would not release the footage during an ongoing investigation.
Putney and Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said the city is preparing for more protests Wednesday.
“We're hoping for the best and preparing for the worst,” Putney said.