A protestor stands with fist raised as she confronts police officers in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Wednesday. Picture: EPA/CAITLIN PENNA
A protestor stands with fist raised as she confronts police officers in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Wednesday. Picture: EPA/CAITLIN PENNA

CHARLOTTE — A state of emergency was declared in North Carolina after a man was shot and critically injured on Wednesday in a second night of unrest in Charlotte.

The shooting happened when riot police were dispersing unruly protesters after the fatal police shooting of a black man. Officials said later he was in critical condition on life support.

The city also said the shot was fired by a civilian, not by police. A police officer was also being treated for injuries suffered in Wednesday’s protests, it said.

North Carolina governor Pat McCrory later declared a state of emergency, saying the National Guard and state highway patrol troopers would be sent in to help local police restore order.

Charlotte police chief Kerr Putney said: "We’ve been very patient, but now they’ve become very aggressive, throwing bottles and so forth, at my officers, so it’s time for us now to restore order."

The flashpoint for Charlotte’s unrest was Tuesday’s fatal police shooting of Keith Scott, 43, who according to police was armed with a handgun and defying police orders to drop the weapon. His family and a witness to the shooting said Scott was holding a book, not a firearm.

Authorities have not released a video of the incident but the mayor said she would see the footage on Thursday.

McCrory said: "Any violence directed toward our citizens or police officers or destruction of property should not be tolerated."

Unrest erupts outside hotel

The latest trouble began with a peaceful rally that turned violent after several hundred chanting demonstrators marched through downtown. They confronted a column of patrol cars and officers and began to surround groups of police and their vehicles.

Police unleashed volleys of rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas and flash-bang grenades to disperse the protesters, who began hurling fireworks and debris.

The confrontation grew more intense as a phalanx of helmeted police carrying shields advanced down a street, pushing back a crowd of demonstrators who scurried for cover as officers fired more tear gas.

Protesters smashed windows and glass doors at a nearby Hyatt hotel, punching two employees, said the manager.

Demonstrators looted two shops. Some protesters expressed anger at the lawlessness. A woman shouted: "Stop. That’s not what this is about."

Sixteen officers were injured late on Tuesday and early Wednesday as police in riot gear clashed with demonstrators who hurled stones, set fires and briefly blocked an interstate highway.

Tuesday’s disturbances in Charlotte begun as demonstrators in Tulsa, Oklahoma, demanded the arrest of a police officer seen in a video last week fatally shooting an unarmed black man with his hands in clear view.

President Barack Obama spoke by telephone on Wednesday with the mayors of Charlotte and Tulsa.

In Charlotte, Putney insisted Scott was shot by a black officer after he got out of his car and disregarded orders to drop his gun. "We did not find a book," Putney told a news conference. "We did find a weapon."

Charlotte resident Taheshia Williams said she saw the incident from her balcony and watched Scott get out of his car with his hands raised.

"Hands up. No gun. When he got out of the car, a book fell off his lap," Williams told reporters. She said she heard Scott ask police what he had done wrong, could not hear their reply, then heard four shots.