Oklahoma police initially said Terence Crutcher would not comply, which is why he had to die, never mind the fact that his only crime was driving a car that had stalled in the middle of the street, which, of course, is not a crime.
But police videos released today shows he was complying when he was shot dead on Friday, raising both arms in the air after police had pulled up to his stalled vehicle.
The videos, one from a dash cam, the other from a police helicopter, appear to show one Tulsa police officer tasering him, prompting another Tulsa cop to shoot him. Not that the videos show he even deserved to be tasered, but perhaps it had something to do with “officer safety.”
Tulsa police have not explained why they demanded he place his hands in the air after responding to the stalled car, but we imagine it also has something to do with officer safety, that notion where every possible threat must be neutralized – even if there is no obvious threat – before police can breathe easy.
It’s all part of their training. That assurance that they can make it home to their families even if it means keeping somebody else from doing the same.
But Crutcher had no gun. And the video shows he was no threat.
And to the dismay of the Tulsa Police Department, he didn’t even have much of a criminal record, pleading no contest back in 1996 to carrying a concealed weapon and resisting an officer, receiving a suspended six-month sentence for those charges, according to the Associated Press.
Crutcher was just a 40-year-old father of four that had the misfortune of breaking down on a Tulsa street after attending a music appreciation class at a local college; a man who sang in his local church choir and whose last traffic infraction was in 2005.
But he was black. And he was heavyset. So even if he was complying with police who found it suspicious that his car would break down on a public street – to the point where they had to dispatch a helicopter – he was still deemed a threat.
That is evident from the helicopter video that shows Crutcher walking back to his car as three cops hold him at gunpoint.
“That looks like a bad dude, too,” one cop in the air says. “Can be on something.”
And even after he was shot dead, three officers appeared to still be fearing for their lives as they slowly walked backwards from the bleeding body, clutching each other with their guns drawn as if Crutcher’s lifeless body could prop itself up at any moment and come after them.
It took more than a minute after shooting Crutcher that they gathered their courage to walk back and handcuff the body, also in the name of officer safety.
And it was only then that they began to act like they were trying to save his life, but by then, it was pointless. He was dead.
The Award-Winning Cops who Feared for their Lives
The cop who shot him is Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby, who has been with the department since 2011. Before that, she worked for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office since 2007.
The cop who tasered him, Tyler Turnbough, has been with the department since 2009.
Both Shelby and Turnbough are award-winning officers, which doesn’t mean much considering police departments hand out awards out to every officer at one point or another, but it does sound good to the police-adoring public, especially those that have the fortune of not being threatened at gunpoint for having a car stall on them.
Here is how the Associated Press reported the shooting on Saturday after interviewing a Tulsa police spokesperson:
A police officer shot and killed a black man who ignored repeated requests to put up his hands before reaching into an SUV that was stalled in the middle of a street, the police department said.
Terrence Crutcher, 40 years old, died in the hospital after he was shot by the officer around 8 p.m. local time Friday, police said.
Police spokeswoman Jeanne MacKenzie earlier told reporters that two officers were walking toward the stalled SUV when Mr. Crutcher approached them from the side of the road.
“He refused to follow commands given by the officers,” Ms. MacKenzie said. “They continued to talk to him, he continued not to listen and follow any commands. As they got closer to the vehicle, he reached inside the vehicle and at that time there was a Taser deployment and a short time later there was one shot fired.”
The video contradicts the claim that he “ignored repeated requests to put his hands in the air.”
And while the videos released do not show the segment where they first pulled up, let’s just say that perhaps it’s true that he “approached them from the side of the road” because maybe he did not feel like remaining in the middle of the street for safety reasons.
But, of course, one must never approach a police officer unless granted permission because that makes them fear for their lives.
However, both videos begin with Crutcher walking towards his car with his hands in the air as cops train their guns on him, so it appears that he was following their orders after committing the faux pas of walking up to them without permission.
We will probably never know what words were exchanged between the cops and Crutcher because even though the Tulsa Police Department was supposed to receive a $600,000 match grant last year for body cameras, they say none of the officers were wearing a camera that day.
So despite the two videos that show he did nothing to deserve to be shot and killed, we can imagine the scenario they will now create to justify the killing.
UPDATE: Tulsa police released three dash cam videos, one helicopter video, a 911 call recording and the dispatch recording, all which can be seen here.
But they did not release the dash cam video from Shelby’s car, which would show us exactly what took place between them two to make her so terrified that she had to kill him.