Federal, state and local authorities are investigating the shooting of an unarmed black man, which occurred Friday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The man was Terence Crutcher. He was a father, a son, a brother, and he was guilty of nothing. Crutcher’s family says he was waiting for help on the road after his SUV broke down.
The officer’s attorney says she was afraid Crutcher was reaching for a weapon when she opened fire. It was later discovered that Mr. Crutcher was unarmed, as well no weapon was found in the vehicle. Meaning, he was shot for no reason.
Two 911 calls brought officers to the scene around 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The first was from a woman who said an abandoned vehicle was blocking the street and a man was running away, warning that it was going to blow up.
“Somebody left their vehicle running in the middle of the street with their doors wide open,” the caller said. “The doors are open, the vehicle is still running. It’s an SUV. It’s in the middle of the street, it’s blocking traffic.”
Officer Betty Shelby was the first to arrive. Crutcher was on the side of the road, away from his vehicle. He then approached the officer, police said. Shelby related to dispatchers that Crutcher wasn’t cooperating, according to Tulsa’s police chief.
Videos released by police on Monday show some of what happened next. The footage is “very disturbing and difficult to watch,” Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan told reporters.
By the time Crutcher raised his hands, Tulsa Police officers were also flying above the scene in a helicopter, capturing the incident from an on-board camera. Footage from multiple police cameras show Crutcher walking toward his SUV in the middle of the road, hands raised, followed closely by Shelby and three other officers. They surround Crutcher, who continued to walk back to his car, where he appeared to place his hands toward the vehicle.
Moments later, as Crutcher stands beside his car, the video shows him fall to the ground.
“I think he may have just been Tasered,” an officer says over the radio.
“Shots fired!” a female officer screams.
In the video, Crutcher lies in the middle of the street, motionless, and dying.
It seems to be a common place occurrence in America for us to awaken to videos circulating of a young black man being murdered. Most of us will never forget the day we all watched Anton Sterling be gunned down live on social media.
In fact, the last several years have seen a record number of black people, and specifically black men murdered at the hands of white police officers, beginning with the cries of “I can’t breathe!”, from the Eric Garner video below from just over two years ago.
The slain man’s twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher spoke at a press conference with a statement that showed the deep rift between the police mentality in the moment and the reality of their “suspect.”
“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 of his flaws, every week. That big bad dude, that’s who he was.” —Tiffany Crutcher, twin sister of Terence Crutcher