charlotte-scott-blunt-shootingThe latest high-profile case of an African-American man fatally shot by police started with cops observing a blunt being rolled, they said.

Tuesday’s shooting of Keith Lamont Scott sparked multiple nights of protests, including violence and looting, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Police say he had a gun. Video of the incident doesn’t appear to prove or disprove that claim.

But critics of law enforcement were quick to note this all started with an alleged marijuana law violation.

It started Sept. 20 when plainclothes cops in an unmarked vehicle working a case in an apartment complex parking lot saw Scott park next to them.

“The officers observed the driver, later identified as Mr. Keith Lamont Scott, rolling what they believed to be a marijuana ‘blunt,'” the Charlotte department said in a statement. “Officers did not consider Mr. Scott’s drug activity to be a priority at the time and they resumed the warrant operation. A short time later, Officer Vinson observed Mr. Scott hold a gun up.

“Because of that, the officers had probable cause to arrest him for the drug violation and to further investigate Mr. Scott being in possession of the gun,” the department said.

Cops say witnesses backed up their version of events.

“Witnesses confirmed that officers gave numerous loud verbal commands for Mr. Scott to drop the weapon and also confirmed that at no time did Mr. Scott comply with their commands,” the department said.

Critics called for all video of the confrontation to be released. At first the Charlotte department refused, but in recent days footage from officers’ body cameras was released.

The shooting is one of countless deadly confrontations between police and African American men that groups like Black Lives Matter say wouldn’t have happened if suspects were white.