CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA —
The police chief of the southeastern U.S. city of Charlotte, North Carolina said Friday the video recorded by police of Tuesday's shooting of an African American man will eventually be released.
"It’s a matter of when and it’s a matter of sequence," Chief Kerr Putney said at a news conference Friday. "I want to be more thoughtful and deliberate in delivering the whole story."
Separately, the family of the man, Keith Lamont Scott, released cellphone video footage that Scott's wife recorded in the moments leading up to Tuesday's fatal shooting.
The cellphone video does not show whether Scott was brandishing a gun when he was being confronted by officers; however, his wife can be heard pleading with officers not to shoot him, and for her husband to get out of his vehicle. As the standoff continues, she is heard insisting he is unarmed, as police demand Scott "drop the gun." Gunshots then ring out, and Scott can be seen lying prone in the street.
Chief Putney said the case has been turned over to the State Bureau of Investigation to ensure an independent inquiry and that an arrest has been made in connection to the fatal Wednesday night shooting of a demonstrator.
Putney's remarks are consistent with Mayor Jennifer Roberts' stated desire to release to the public the police video. Roberts said earlier that she and other city officials were having discussions with the FBI and state investigators "about how soon we can release" the footage.
In Washington, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, G.K. Butterfield, continued to call for its release, telling CNN, "The public has a right to know what happened on that fateful night.”
A third night of demonstrations against the police shooting in Charlotte was largely peaceful. Hundreds of people defied a midnight curfew, marching without incident in the early hours of Friday. Authorities said they had no plans to enforce the curfew as long as the protests remained peaceful.
Video showed some protesters shaking hands with smiling National Guard personnel in the early morning darkness. Tear gas was used against demonstrators at one location in Charlotte, the state's largest city, but such incidents were rare.
Police in riot gear were dispersed throughout the city.
State of emergency declared
Governor Pat McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, had earlier declared a state of emergency, and said police would arrest lawbreakers. "We cannot tolerate any type of violence...or destruction of property," McCrory said.
People from all around North Carolina joined the protests. Cherrell Brown, a Black Lives Matter activist and community organizer who goes by "Carolina Bama" on Twitter, drove from nearby Greensboro to participate in solidarity with Charlotte and the African-American community.
"This isn't new," she told VOA, referring to the protests in Charlotte and the Black Lives Matter movement in general. "This is an iteration of a movement that's been going on for 500 years - since the slaves got off the boat."
Many clergy were present at the rallies, urging calm and peace for all present. Other protesters, however, were seen arguing with preachers, claiming they didn't understand the pain Charlotte residents had suffered and that the demonstrators could not be expected to stay calm.
Protester shot Wednesday dies
A young protester who was shot Wednesday died Thursday. Justin Carr, 26, had been struck by a bullet as he stood outside a hotel in the neighborhood where the disturbances took place. Police announced they have arrested a suspect in his shooting.
The shooting of Carr apparently occurred after protesters clashed with police in riot gear, and the demonstration turned violent. Officers fired tear gas to disperse the crowds; some people smashed store windows and set small fires in the streets. More than 30 people were injured after protests turned violent.
Carr's death was the first fatality recorded since Scott was shot.
Police said Scott was holding a gun when they shot him. His family said Scott may have been simply carrying a book he was reading. Police said they found no book at the scene. A photo taken from some distance appears to show a gun on the ground not far from the car. It was not clear whose gun it was.
Police said officers were looking for someone else when they saw Scott get out of the car with a gun, and that an officer fired after Scott ignored warnings to drop the weapon.
Video reportedly unclear
Police refused to release to the public any video recordings of the shooting, but they screened the images Thursday for family members who said it was unclear what, if anything, was in Scott's hands.
Comments by Charlotte's police chief also indicated it was difficult to establish exactly what happened from the police video, since it came from a camera in a cruiser some distance from the confrontation between Scott and the officers who stopped him.
Attorney Justin Bamberg, representing the Scott family, told reporters late Thursday that the family wants the video released to the public immediately. Police Chief Putney said earlier that he would not release the recording unless he believes there is a "compelling reason" to do so.
The North Carolina branch of the American Civil Liberties Union also has called for the swift release of any and all footage related to Tuesday's shooting.
In a statement, executive director Karen Anderson said, “In the interest of transparency and accountability, and particularly in light of conflicting accounts about the shooting, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department should quickly release any and all footage it has of the events leading up to the shooting, as well as the shooting itself."
Corine Mack, president of the NAACP’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg branch, said the video's release would bring transparency to the investigation .
“It really doesn’t matter if he had a gun,” Mack said. “Showing he had a gun doesn’t prove he was guilty of anything.” It is legal to openly carry guns in North Carolina.
The U.S. Justice Department is sending a group of trained peacekeepers to Charlotte to help resolve any conflicts. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the chief U.S. law enforcement officer, urged citizens Thursday to choose a path of reconciliation.
"Too many times we’ve allowed ourselves to be pulled down the easy path of blame and accusation rather than the harder path of empathy and understanding. Let us choose that path," Lynch told reporters.
VOA's Arash Arabasadi, Smita Nordwall and Wayne Lee contributed to this report.