Against the fury of a mob and a hailstorm of stone, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police were powerless to rescue even themselves in the earliest hours of September’s rioting.

Filings last week in federal court provide the most detailed accounting to date of two nights of unprecedented violence that crippled Charlotte after the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott on the afternoon of Sept. 20.

Details of the city’s response are contained in a filing made by city attorneys in response to a complaint from eight Charlotte residents who claim the police used "excessive force" on them during the unrest. Their attorneys asked a judge to issue a temporary restraining order banning police from using such tactics against non-violent demonstrators, the Charlotte Observer reports.

What emerges from the filing documents is a portrait of a city overwhelmed by violence. Although thousands demonstrated peacefully for a week, the account focuses on rioting, vandalism, looting and assaults on police that attracted international attention.

According to the city’s chronology, evidence technicians began to be escorted from the scene about four hours after an officer shot Scott. Darkness fell and menacing crowds gathered around them.

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