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One Person Shot as Charlotte Protests Continue

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09/22/2016 | 01:56am EDT

CHARLOTTE, N.C.-A person was shot and four officers were injured during a second night of protests Wednesday following the fatal police shooting of a black man the day before.

The protester was shot by a civilian downtown just after 8 p.m., according to the city of Charlotte, and was on life support as of late Wednesday. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department "did not fire the shot," the city said in a tweet.

The officer injuries weren't life threatening, Charlotte police said in a tweet.

Gov. Pat McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, condemned violent protests in a statement, and said the state highway patrol was sending troopers to help the Charlotte police force as needed. He later declared a state of emergency.

The evening began peacefully with a vigil at a 6-acre downtown park. But as some protesters left the park and marched through the streets, they faced off with police in riot gear, holding their hands in the air, chanting, "Hands up, don't shoot." Others approached the officers' face masks, saying, "Why do you keep killing us?"

Shortly thereafter, protesters confronted police downtown and appeared to throw water bottles and chase police cars. Police responded with tear gas. When a man fell in the street, it was initially unclear whether he had been shot by police or someone in the crowd.

Violent protests continued toward midnight Wednesday in the central business district, a few yards from the Ritz-Carlton hotel that is host to many Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. executives, whose skyscrapers are nearby, and a block from the arena where basketball legend Michael Jordan's Charlotte Hornets play. Windows at restaurants and major hotels were smashed, and police in riot gear sought to regain control of the streets.

The bus and streetcar station a few blocks away closed early, a rare event in a city which the mayor has said takes pride in its ability to talk through problems in "the Charlotte way."

The violent protests began a day earlier, after Keith Lamont Scott was shot by a police officer in a north Charlotte apartment complex parking lot.

Police officers on Wednesday morning repeated their account that Mr. Scott was armed with a gun and ignored their commands to drop his weapon.

But some local civil-rights leaders said they remained skeptical of the police account of the officers' encounter with Mr. Scott. His family members have said on social media that police accosted him while he read a book in his car and waited to pick up one of his children from school.

"It's confusing with all these reports coming out," said Tennille Fadel, a 33-year-old freelance fashion designer who joined mourners who left candles and white and red roses in the apartment complex parking lot near where Mr. Scott was fatally shot. She said the larger issue to her was law enforcement's attitude toward black people.

"I feel it's a deep-rooted thing," she said.

The protests on Tuesday left 16 police officers injured and damaged police and other vehicles. A local Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location was looted, police said. Protesters on Tuesday had chanted that Mr. Scott had a book, not a gun.

The continued protests on Wednesday weren't what the Scott family said they wanted. Rakeyia Scott, Mr. Scott's widow, said in a statement earlier Wednesday evening that the family has "more questions than answers" about his death. But she had asked that all protests be peaceful ones, saying: "Please do not hurt people or members of law enforcement, damage property or take things that do not belong to you in the name of protesting."

The Wal-Mart remained closed Wednesday, with lines of grocery carts blocking the parking lot entrances and security guards standing in front of the doors. The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce asked businesses to chain down or remove outdoor chairs, tables and planters in case of protests Wednesday night. Many downtown employers sent workers home by no later than 5 p.m. as a precaution.

Charlotte officials hoped a day of talking with local pastors and civic leaders would help forestall further violence. "We are calling for peace, we are calling for calm, we are calling for dialogue," Mayor Jennifer Roberts said.

On Wednesday morning, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said that Mr. Scott was "posing a threat" to officers who approached him in a parking lot in northeastern Charlotte.

Officers were seeking to serve a warrant on another man when they approached Mr. Scott, who got out of his car with a gun, got back in the car and then out again, police said. Mr. Scott was shot by Officer Brentley Vinson, a black officer with two years' experience on the force, in the presence of several other officers, the chief said.

Chief Putney said the initial investigation, including a review of body and dashboard camera footage, shed doubt on the version of events described by Mr. Scott's family. "The story's a little bit different as to how it's been portrayed so far. A handgun was seized," he said. "We did not find a book that was made reference to," Chief Putney added.

Civil-rights advocates said the Charlotte shooting was further evidence of systemic policing problems nationwide.

It makes little difference that the Charlotte officer was black rather than white, as was the case in Baton Rouge and elsewhere, said Justin Bamberg, an attorney representing the family of Alton Sterling, the man shot in Baton Rouge, and the family of Walter Scott, who was killed in 2015 by a white North Charleston, S.C., police officer.

"It's not about race," Mr. Bamberg said. "It's the powerful versus the powerless."

"We have a problem throughout the country," Mr. Bamberg said. "Do people truly understand the value of human life?"

Mr. Scott's death comes at the tail end of a long summer of simmering tension nationally between minority communities and law enforcement. Police fatally shot black men in Baton Rouge, La., and Falcon Heights, Minn., in July. The U.S. Justice Department recently opened an investigation into the fatal police shooting Friday of an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Okla.

The incident also follows deadly attacks on police this summer that left five officers dead in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge. In Philadelphia on Friday night, a police sergeant survived after a man who expressed hatred for police shot her several times in an ambush, according to officials.

Locally, Tuesday's shooting comes amid lingering tension regarding the dismissal of charges last year against a white Charlotte-Mecklenburg officer in the shooting of Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed black man who was fatally shot after he knocked on a door seeking help after a car wreck.

Scott Calvert contributed to this article.

Corrections & Amplifications: A person shot during protests in Charlotte, N.C., was in critical condition Wednesday night, according to city officials. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the person had died.

Write to Valerie Bauerlein at valerie.bauerlein@wsj.com and Cameron McWhirter at cameron.mcwhirter@wsj.com

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WELLS FARGO & COMPANY 2.33% 44.39 Delayed Quote.-3.67%
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