CHARLOTTE // Protesters blocked a highway and clashed with police in Charlotte, North Carolina, early on Wednesday morning after officers fatally shot a black man they said had a gun when they approached him in a parking lot.
Twelve officers and several protesters suffered non-life threatening injuries during an hours-long demonstration near where Keith Lamont Scott, 43, was shot by a policeman on Tuesday afternoon, police and local media said.
On Wednesday morning, protesters blocked Interstate 85, where they stole boxes from trucks and started fires before police used flash grenades in an attempt to disperse the angry crowd, an affiliate of ABC network in Charlotte reported.
A group of protesters then tried to break into a Walmart store before police arrived and began guarding its front entryway, video footage by local media showed.
Earlier, police in riot gear reportedly used tear gas on protesters who threw rocks and water bottles at them as they wielded large sticks and blocked traffic. One officer was sent to the hospital after being struck in the head by a rock, police said.
Charlotte mayor Jennifer Roberts urged for calm.
“The community deserves answers and [a] full investigation will ensue,” she said on Twitter, adding in a subsequent post, “I want answers too.”
Scott was shot by officer Brentley Vinson earlier in the day, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. The shooting occurred when officers were at an apartment complex searching for a suspect with an outstanding warrant and they saw Scott get out of his vehicle with a firearm, the department said.
Mr Vinson, an African-American, has been placed on paid leave. Mr Vinson fired his weapon and struck Scott, who “posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers”, the department said.
Protesters and Scott’s family disputed that the dead man was armed. Some family members told reporters that Scott had been holding a book and was waiting for his son to be dropped off from school.
Shakeala Baker, who lives in a neighbouring apartment complex, said she had seen Scott in the parking lot on previous afternoons waiting for his child. But on Tuesday, she watched as medics tended to Scott after he was shot, she said.
“This is just sad,” said Ms Baker, 31. “I get tired of seeing another black person shot every time I turn on the television. But [police are] scared for their own lives. So if they’re scared for their lives, how are they going to protect us?”