What on earth did poor Terence Crutcher do to deserve killing? He was standing by his car, with his hands up. He was not armed, and had no gun in his car. From NPR:
In the recording from the Tulsa police helicopter, an officer is heard saying of Crutcher as he walks in front of Shelby, “Looks like that’s a bad dude, maybe on something.”
Officers had been called to the scene by passers-by who had reported a vehicle abandoned in the road. “He took off running,” a woman told a 911 operator, saying that the man said his vehicle might blow up. She added, “I think he’s smoking something.”
Shelby, who is white, was one of four police officers who were standing at the rear bumper of Crutcher’s car as he stood next to his vehicle around 7:45 p.m. Friday. She’s also the officer who shot him once, in the upper body — and who then radioed, “Shots fired.” Police say another officer used his Taser on Crutcher at nearly the same time he was shot.
Tiffany Crutcher then went on to tell the media gathered in Tulsa, “You all want to know who that big ‘bad dude’ was. That big ‘bad dude’ was my twin brother. That big ‘bad dude’ was a father. That big ‘bad dude’ was a son. That big ‘bad dude’ was enrolled at Tulsa Community College, just wanting to make us proud.
“That big ‘bad dude’ loved God; that big ‘bad dude’ was at church singing, with all his flaws, every week. That’s who he was.”
Tiffany Crutcher said her brother’s future was taken away because of negligence and incompetence — “and because he was a big ‘bad dude.’”
Three police officers were present, with weapons drawn, when Crutcher was shot dead. What kind of threat was he, really? The attorney for Ofc. Betty Shelby, who fired the shot, said:
Shelby’s attorney, Scott Wood, said Crutcher was not following the officers’ commands.
“He has his hands up and is facing the car and looks at Shelby, and his left hand goes through the car window, and that’s when she fired her shot,” Wood told the Tulsa World for a report Tuesday.
He must have done something, because a different officer tasered him at almost the same instant. But we don’t know yet. It’s not possible to see from the video. We should have learned by now to wait for the investigation before drawing conclusions. (A federal investigation is underway.) Whatever the outcome of the official inquiries, the fact remain that an unarmed black man was shot dead on the highway by a police officer. And that is at the very least a tragedy. We will see if it was a crime.