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Charlotte dominates national headlines for fatal police shooting

A protestor kicks a tear gas canister fired by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers along Old Concord Rd. in Charlotte, NC on Tuesday night. A protest began on Old Concord Road at Bonnie Lane, where a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer fatally shot a man in the parking lot of The Village at College Downs apartment complex Tuesday afternoon.The man who died was identified late Tuesday as Keith Scott, 43 and the officer who fired the fatal shot was CMPD Officer Brentley Vinson.
A protestor kicks a tear gas canister fired by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers along Old Concord Rd. in Charlotte, NC on Tuesday night. A protest began on Old Concord Road at Bonnie Lane, where a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer fatally shot a man in the parking lot of The Village at College Downs apartment complex Tuesday afternoon.The man who died was identified late Tuesday as Keith Scott, 43 and the officer who fired the fatal shot was CMPD Officer Brentley Vinson. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

The violent protests that erupted in north Charlotte Tuesday night dominated national and international headlines and TV news, as well as social media, Wednesday morning following the fatal police shooting of an African-American man.

The Charlotte protests were the leading stories on national news shows like the Today Show and Morning Joe Wednesday morning. Major networks like the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Buzzfeed, BBC and dozens of others all had Charlotte stories on their homepages.

All note the seemingly conflicting reports of what happened: Police say the victim, Keith Lamont Scott had a gun and “posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers,” while his family says he was unarmed, disabled and reading a book in his car when police shot and killed him.

The shooting and subsequent protests drew a reaction on social media from the Democratic and Republic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. In a press conference Wednesday morning, Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said she had spoken with the White House about the situation.

The Charlotte unrest came hours after a peaceful demonstration in Tulsa, Okla., where a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man Friday afternoon. In Charlotte, 16 Charlotte Mecklenburg Police officers were injured and I-85 was blocked off for a time early Wednesday.

The protests here call to mind the community’s reaction after the acquittal last year of Randall “Wes” Kerrick, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police officer who shot and killed Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed black man.

The hashtags #KeithLamontScott and #CharlotteProtests were trending topics on social media in Charlotte and beyond alongside #blacklivesmatter and #TerenceCrutcher, the name of the Tulsa shooting victim.

NBA star Stephen Curry, a Charlotte Christian School and Davidson College grad, tweeted about the protests on Wednesday afternoon.

Several Carolina Panthers, including defensive end Charles Johnson, safety Tre Boston, wide receiver Philly Brown and running back Jonathan Stewart tweeted or retweeted stories about the Charlotte demonstrations.

Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who has been criticized for kneeling during the National Anthem to draw attention to injustice against African Americans, retweeted several tweets related to Scott’s shooting.

Social media reaction to the unrest in Charlotte seemed to be a mix between some who express outrage at looting and violent protesting; others expressed broader outrage at the use of excessive force against African Americans.

Officer Brentley Vinson, who shot Scott, has been put on paid administrative leave, which is standard.

Staff Writer Joe Marusak contributed.

Several hundred people protested a CMPD officer-involved fatal shooting in the University Area that extended from Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning. A dozen police officers were injured in the clashes.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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