A pastor is challenging an official claim regarding a protester shot last night during the ongoing protests in Charlotte, North Carolina, which have raged since police killed 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday. Officials say the protester was fired upon by another demonstrator, but at least one pastor who was there claims the shot “came from the direction of police.”
Steve Knight, minister of Mission Gathering Christian Church in Charlotte, was about 10 feet away from the protester when he was shot. The City of Charlotte tweeted that the shot did not originate from police, a claim repeated by CNN, NPR, Fox News, and NBC, among others. But Knight says things were less clear at the scene.
“I was in the crowd last night, I was very close to it when it happened,” he told ThinkProgress, noting that the man was standing between two members of the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice when he was injured. “The strongest thing I can say is that it appeared to me that the shot came from the direction of the police.”
“The strongest thing I can say is that it appeared to me that the shot came from the direction of the police.”
Knight said the crowd also disputed the police’s claim.
“The crowd certainly believed the shot came from the police—and that was my sense as well from where I was standing,” he said, noting that he can’t speak for all clergy. “I saw no one in the crowd last night who had a weapon.”
Knight said the incident occurred after a line of police marched a group of peaceful protesters down Trade Street and into this entryway of an underground parking garage. Once there, Knight says police began attacking the demonstrators.
“It felt like an ambush,” he said. “As soon as we were drawn in there by police, tear gas was dropped, police began striking protesters…that’s when the shooting occurred.”
Knight also expressed disbelief that officials could have concluded the source of the shot so soon after the incident.
“It was a chaotic situation, and I find it hard to believe that the news media was told so quickly what happened,” he said. “I don’t think anyone could have known what had happened.”
“We want a ballistics report to know where the shot came from,” he added. “Our concern is that there isn’t going to be peace in Charlotte until people get answers to these questions.”
ThinkProgress reached out to other clergy who were present at the protest to corroborate Knight’s account, but did not receive replies by press time. This post will be updated as more information becomes available.