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Protests Erupt Over Police Shooting of a Black Man in North Carolina

Protests erupted overnight in North Carolina in response to the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old black man who was killed by a black cop on Tuesday.

It was the second death of a black man at the hands of police in the span of five days, following the shooting of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday, and has once again thrust the issue of police brutality against black men back into the national conversation just weeks ahead of the presidential election.

In Charlotte Tuesday night, police in riot gear and protesters carrying signs that read “Stop Killing Us” and “Black Lives Matter,” clashed in the streets after sundown around the apartment complex where Lamont Scott was killed, according to the Charlotte Observer.

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Protesters occasionally threw rocks and water bottles at police, and around 11 p.m., hours in the protests, police set of tear gas to try and disperse the crowd, according to the paper.

Two police vehicles were damaged and an officer was hit in the face with a rock, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department tweeted. Protesters whom the police described as “agitators”  also set fires in the streets, including on a major highway.

The protests dwindled, with police handing out water bottles to a few dozen remaining protesters around 1 a.m., according to the Observer. The Charlotte Police Department said 12 officers were injured. Seven other individuals were injured and five were arrested, according to local TV station WSOC.

Lamont Scott was killed Tuesday as police were searching his apartment complex for another suspect but saw him emerge from his car holding a gun, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said. Putney said Lamont Scott then got back in the car and back out of the car with the gun again. His family refuted this account, saying he was unarmed.

Police said Lamont Scott posed a deadly threat and shot and killed him, according to the BBC.

Lamont Scott’s daughter, however, said in a video posted to Facebook that he was reading a book while waiting for his son’s school bus and did not have a gun, the BBC reported. She said he was disabled, and was tasered before being shot four times by police.

Putney said police recovered a gun at the scene of Lamont Scott’s death.

North Carolina is an open carry state, which allows individuals to carry guns with a permit.

The officer who shot Lamont Scott, Brentley Vinson, has been placed on administrative leave and Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts said there would be a full investigation, the BBC reported.  

Last week, police shot and killed unarmed Terence Crutcher, a 40-year-old black man from Tulsa.

Police came upon his stalled car in the middle of the road while responding to another call.

A video of the incident was released Monday. It shows Crutcher walking in the road toward his car, with his hands up.

Then Betty Shelby, a white police officer, shot him. Video taken at the scene shows most of the officers on the scene backing away slowly as he laid on the road, dying.

The deaths of Lamont Scott and Crutcher, joining the ranks of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and many more before them, have once again drawn national attention to the issue of excessive force against black men. And this time, it’s less than a week ahead of the first presidential debate, scheduled for Monday, September 26.

Donald Trump tweeted this morning that the “situations in Tulsa and Charlotte are tragic. We must come together to make America safe again.”

Hillary Clinton has not yet commented on the Charlotte shooting or protests, but called the death of Cutcher in Oklahoma “unbearable” and said that systemic racism should not be tolerated.

"And maybe I can, by speaking directly to white people, say, 'Look, this is not who we are,'" Clinton said. "We have got to do everything possible to improve policing, to go right at implicit bias."