Friday night, on the north side of Tulsa, OK, Terence Crutcher had car trouble. It must have been serious because, according to the woman who called 911 to report a man being black, he told her that the car was going to explode and ran from it. She added, “I think he’s smoking something.” Yeah, because a black man can never be agitated unless there are drugs involved.
When police arrived — two units and a chopper — Crutcher approached them with his hands up, as can clearly be seen in the video. The four officers who responded to the call had their guns trained on Crutcher as he went to the driver’s side of his vehicle. At that point, the video, which police released on Monday, shows police crowding around him, obscuring the action. Then the chopper camera shows Crutcher collapsing, bleeding, onto the street.
The officers don’t appear to check on him. If they had called for an ambulance right then, Crutcher might have lived. Or if, god forbid, one of them had made an effort to staunch the bleeding. But they didn’t. Instead, they comforted the officer who shot Crutcher, Betty Shelby. Yes, she is white. All of the officers were.
Damario Solomon-Simmons, a family friend who is acting as attorney for the Crutcher family, called on Saturday for the Tulsa PD to immediately release the camera footage — dash cam and chopper cam. Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan complied on Monday afternoon, holding a press conference. He told reporters:
“I’m going to tell you right now, there was no gun on the suspect or in the suspect’s vehicle. I want to assure our community and I want to assure all of you and people across the nation watching this: We will achieve justice… The video is disturbing. It’s very difficult to watch. The first time I watched it, I watched it with the family.”
He’s right. It is disturbing to watch an unarmed man get gunned down in the street like an animal. The horror is compounded when one hears the chatter from the helicopter circling overhead. One of the officers in the chopper happened to be Betty Shelby’s husband, David. TPD says that was just “happenstance.” But the things David Shelby and the unidentified pilot said were not. It has not been stated who said what but that doesn’t really matter.
“He’s got his hands up there for her now.”
“Time for a Taser, I think.”
“I’ve got a feeling that’s about to happen.”
“That looks like a bad dude, too. Could be on something.”
TPD says that last comment was not from Shelby. As if that really matters. Both men assumed, like the officers on the ground, that Crutcher was a criminal. They didn’t ask him any questions, just shouted for him to do exactly what he did; raise his hands. They didn’t bother to find out why the car was in the street, what was going on, who he was… nothing. They just shot him and left him to bleed out in the street.
Crutcher’s family has told the press that Terrence was coming home from his college music appreciation class when his car stalled. That’s all. But, because his car stalled in the middle of the street and he was black, the 40-year-old received a death sentence. This is insane.
The family and their pastors, who held a presser before the Tulsa Chief of Police spoke on Monday, have called for protest but no violence. Tiffany Crutcher, the victim’s sister, told the assembled crowd:
“Let’s protest, let’s do what we have to do, but let’s do it peacefully, so we respect the culture of our family.”
Protests have already begun outside the Tulsa courthouse. Chief Jordan says that he has turned to the FBI and Justice Department for help. Both will hold separate investigations into the incident. Officer Betty Shelby is on “routine administrative leave with pay.”
The area in which the shooting occurred has seen its share of racism and violence. The area, which is predominantly black, is where the race riots of 1921 happened. The whole area — known as Greenwood and home to affluent black families at the time — was looted and burned by white mobs when a black man was accused of accosting a white woman in an elevator. While it was the white Tulsans who perpetrated the violence, it was the blacks who were rounded up and arrested. It is believed that nearly 300 people died in the violence.
Chief Jordan hopes to prevent any sort of repeat. He expects protests but hopes they will be peaceful.
“I just hope and pray that everyone keeps those protests peaceful. Let’s show people that Tulsa’s better than anyplace else.”
Crutcher’s family and friends agree. As do we all. No violence, please. It only turns people away from the message that black lives matter.
Here is the police video via Blue Lives Matter. **Warning** It is graphic:
Featured Image via Screen Capture