City officials gave conflicting explanations of what happened to the protester, who is said to have been shot during protests over police shooting of Keith Scott
Protesters were demonstrating over the death of Keith Scott on Tuesday. Police shot Scott in the parking lot of the apartment complex where he lived on the east side of town.
Details of what happened to the protester have been muddled, with conflicting explanations from city officials. At first the citys police chief, Kerr Putney, said the man had died on Wednesday night. That announcement was initially reversed.
The city also said the man, whose name has not been released, was injured during a civilian on civilian shooting at an intersection. On Thursday afternoon, that explanation seemed increasingly tenuous.
There was no fight, said Eddie Thomas, an attorney and Charlotte public defender who was at the intersection in question to observe interactions between police and the public, he said. There was no issue between protesters. It just didnt happen.
By Wednesday, the protests had migrated to the citys center, to a neighborhood called Uptown that features upscale shops and restaurants. The demonstrations began peacefully, Thomas said, but turned quickly when police in riot gear arrived.
When it was the bicycle police everything was fine, he said. I have no idea why they came out with riot gear. Within five minutes everything had escalated.
He said protesters tried to enter the lobby of the Omni hotel, which had locked its doors. Protesters were shaking the glass doors when police fired off several rounds of tear gas.
There were a lot of us out there who know the difference between a gunshot and a gas canister, Thomas said. He examined the injured man, he said. The man was lying on the sidewalk, blood pouring from the back of his head. Thomas said he saw no entry wound in the front.
Thomass estimation of what happened is that the protester was shot by a so-called less lethal round, a gas canister, pepper ball or some other projectile that caused him to stumble back and hit his head on the brick sidewalk.