Protests against police brutality intensified in Charlotte, North Carolina and continued in Tulsa, Oklahoma this week following the deaths of Keith Lamont Scott and Terence Crutcher. Scott, an African-American father of seven, was killed by police while they searched his North Carolina apartment complex for a different man named in a warrant they were attempting to serve. 40-year-old Crutcher, also black, was shot and killed by police while waiting on the side of the road next to his broken-down car in Oklahoma.
In surveillance footage, Crutcher can be seen walking towards his car, followed by officers, with his hands in the air. As he stands beside his car, he falls to the ground after Officer Betty Shelby shoots. According to Shelby's attorney, she was afraid Crutcher was reaching for a weapon when she shot him. Crutcher's attorney responded that his window was rolled up at the time, making it impossible for him to reach into the car.
In North Carolina, police are attempting to quash rumors about Scott's death. According to Scott's family, Scott was reading a book in his car while he waited for his son to come home from school and was unarmed. But Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney disagrees with this narrative of the facts, stating Scott exited his vehicle with a weapon and that officers found no book at the scene of the crime. According to Putney, officers repeatedly asked Scott to lower his weapon, and when he refused to comply, Officer Brentley Vinson (who is also black) shot him.
16 officers were injured in the subsequent North Carolina protests, which blocked Interstate 85 as some protestors started a fire in the middle of the highway. At least seven people were hospitalized and five were arrested. In Tulsa, about twenty protestors stood outside the Tulsa County Courthouse holding photos of Crutcher, demanding transparency and improved training for the police force.
The U.S. Department of Justice and state authorities have begun investigations into the Tulsa shooting, and the Charlotte protestors have called for the same. These shootings are the latest in a string of police-related deaths that have led protestors and civil rights activists to call for better police practices and heightened awareness of racial tensions between police and civilians.