A black man who was fatally shot by police in Oklahoma, after his car broke down in the road was unarmed, police say.
Terence Crutcher, 40, was shot September 16 in Tulsa, the Associated Press reports. He was taken to the hospital, where he later died.
The officer who shot Crutcher has been identified as Betty Shelby. The
Videos of the shooting led to outrage nationwide. Three days after the video was released, the district attorney announced Shelby would face first-degree manslaughter charge. You can read more about that here.
Tulsa Police said the shooting occurred near 36th Street and Lewis Avenue about 7:30 p.m., KOTV reports.
Crutcher’s SUV had stalled in the middle of the road, and police arrived to check on the situation, according to the news station.
“As they approached the vehicle a black male started towards them,” Tulsa Police spokesperson Jeanne Mackenzie told KOTV. “They asked him to show his hands. He refused to follow commands given by the officers. They continued to talk to him. He continued not to listen, not 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 then a short time later there was one shot fired.”
The shooting was captured on a dashboard camera. The video was released to the public Monday afternoon. It was shown to family members and community leaders on Sunday.
The officer who deployed his Taser was named as Tyler Turnbough.
Police Chief Chuck Jordan said Shelby was on the way to another call when she encountered Crutcher and his vehicle. Jordan, who said he is unable to release many details because of open investigation, said Shelby requested backup because she was “not having cooperation” from Crutcher.
Crutcher was initially identified by police as Terrence Crutcher. He is also named in some public records as Terance Crutcher.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Dashcam Video Shows Crutcher With His Hands ‘in the Air’ Before He Was Shot, a Pastor Says
You can watch the dashcam video released by police above or by clicking here if the player does not load. The video is graphic. The shooting occurs about the 1:40 mark.
The video shows Crutcher walking toward his SUV with his arms held in the air, as Shelby follows behind him with her gun drawn and a second officer approaches with his Taser drawn. He has his back to her and the other officer. Crutcher appears to lean toward the SUV with Shelby at his side and the other officer behind him. A single shot can then be heard and other officers run toward the SUV.
Crutcher then collapses to the ground and Shelby yells into the radio, “Shots fired!”
The Tulsa Police Department released other videos from the shooting. The first video shows the scene of the shooting from a police helicopter. In the video, one of the helicopter pilots says, Crutcher, “looks like a bad dude … might be on something.” The video is very graphic:
You can watch the other videos released by the police department here.
A pastor who watched dash camera video says Crutcher had his hands “in the air,” before he was shot, the Tulsa World reports.
Pastor Rodney Goss, of the Morning Star Baptist Church, also said the video does not show Crutcher reaching into his vehicle. He said Crutcher was walking toward it.
“His hands were in the air from all views,” Goss told the Tulsa World. “It was not apparent at any angle from any point that he lunged, came toward, aggressively attacked, or made any sudden movements that would have been considered a threat or life-threatening toward the officer.”
Goss added that he did not see a weapon. In the video, one officer can be seen deploying his Taser and the other officer then fires her gun.
“It wasn’t a matter of minutes, it was a matter of moments,” Goss told the newspaper. “As quick as the officer released the Taser from his hand, Terence was falling to the ground having already been shot.”
Goss said it took several moments before anyone checked on Crutcher.
“After having been shot, a couple minutes it appears, but it seemed like a lifetime, went by before anyone actually checked with him as far as pulse — as far as whatever the case may be,” Goss said.
He also expressed concerns about audio recorded after the shooting, in which a man in a police helicopter is heard saying Crutcher looked like “one bad dude,” the newspaper reports.
Police said they wanted to show the video to the family and community first.
“We wanted them to see it before it was released so they wouldn’t be blindsided by it,” Tulsa Police Sergeant Shane Tuell said. “We wanted to be able to have that intimate time with them, with their attorney, to see if they had any questions or concerns.”
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2. Shelby Has Been an Officer in Tulsa Since 2011 & Her Husband Is Also a Cop, Who Was in the Police Helicopter at the Time of the Shooting
Police identified the officers involved in the shooting as Officer Betty Shelby, who fired the fatal shot, and Officer Tyler Turnbough, who deployed his Taser.
Shelby was hired by the Tulsa Police Department in 2011 after working for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office from June 2007 to November 2011, according to KOKI-TV. She resigned from her position as a deputy to join the Tulsa department.
A police spokesman told the Tulsa World that Shelby’s husband, Dave Shelby, who is also a Tulsa police officer, was in the helicopter at the time of the shooting “by happenstance.”
It was not her husband that made the comment about Crutcher being a “bad dude.” The other officer in the helicopter hasn’t been identified.
Betty Shelby has been placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting is investigated.
She gave a statement to homicide detectives on Monday, the New York Times reports.
Her attorney, Scott Wood, told the Times that Shelby thought Crutcher had a weapon. He also said Crutcher “had acted erratically, refused to comply with several orders, tried to put his hand in his pocket and reached inside his car window before he was shot.”
Wood told the Tulsa World the incident began about two minutes before the dashcam video started. Shelby was the first officer on the scene, coming upon Crutcher’s broken down SUV, and called for backup. Her dashcam did not record video, according to police. The video begins when backup arrives.
Wood told the newspaper Crutcher was not with his SUV when she arrived, “so she isn’t really sure what’s going on.”
The attorney told the Tulsa World that Crutcher ignored the officer’s commands several times and didn’t answer her questions and reached for his pockets several times despite Shelby telling him not to.
Wood said that Shelby, based on drug-recognition training, believed Crutcher was acting erratically because he was under the influence of PCP.
Tulsa Police told KOKI-TV that a vial of PCP was found in Crutcher’s SUV after the shooting. Autopsy and toxicology results have not yet been released.
Attorneys for Crutcher’s family have said the PCP is not a justification for the shooting. They also argue that Crutcher could not have been reaching into his SUV, because the window was closed.
Wood said Shelby fired her gun at the same time as the other officer deployed his Taser, because they both perceived a threat.
“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 said.
Shelby has been accused of using excessive force twice during her career, KOTV reports.
Both of those complaints were determined to be unfounded, the news station reports. Details of those cases were not immediately available.
Her personnel file also shows that she is a field training officer, meaning she works to train rookie officers.
She has also received four letters of commendation and an Oklahoma meritorious service award, according to KOTV.
Tulsa Police told the Associated Press the county district attorney’s office will make the decision as to whether the shooting was justified.
“Every situation is different. Officers are involved in typically fast-moving situations, and officers who choose to use force, base (those decisions) on the situation involved that they are facing,” police spokesperson Jeanne MacKenzie told the AP.
The U.S Justice Department has also launched a parallel civil rights investigation.
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3. Community Leaders Have Said They Were Shocked & Outraged by the Video, but Called for People to be ‘Level-Headed’
Community leaders who watched the video on Sunday expressed shock and outrage about what they saw, but called for a calm reaction when it is made public. Pleas Thompson, the head of the local NAACP, asked for residents to be “level-headed” after seeing the footage, according to the Tulsa World.
“I think the justice system will work here in Tulsa, because we’ve seen it work before,” Thompson said, making a reference to the case of Tulsa County reserve deputy Robert Bates, who was found guilty of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a black man last year. He was sentenced to four years in prison earlier this year.
Morning Star Baptist Church Pastor Rodney Goss said he expects public outrage, and said the focus should be on changing things going forward.
“It’s difficult to tell your people that it’s OK because the police department has it under control, when the police department in the eyes of much of the community are the proprietors of such an event,” Goss told the Tulsa World.
He told the newspaper he does not want to see violence:
We have to let justice take its course. We have some who want to see the best come out of a bad situation. We have others who are simply looking for a reason to act bad. And then we have some who are so angry that they want this to be just affirmation that every negative opinion that they have of our justice system is confirmed. You can’t corral everyone when you have so many varying agendas and mindsets. The only thing you can attempt to do is be the voice of reason and put something in place that will help your people vent, and that is safe and in a practical way that will hopefully help them deal with a situation that is very painful for the African-American community. I’m pushing for not only a march or a meeting, I’m pushing for a seat at the table,where we can affect change in the policies and the culture of the police versus the community.
The video has also been viewed by Crutcher’s family and their attorneys, along with local elected officials.
4. Crutcher Had 4 Children & Was Studying Music at Tulsa Community College, His Family Says
Terence Crutcher was the father of four children, the Washington Post reports. His family says his SUV stalled as he headed home from class at Tulsa Community College, where he had been studying music appreciation.
Crutcher was also involved in his church, including singing in the choir, according to the Tulsa World.
His pastor, Terry Shannon, told the newspaper it was a “blessing and a joy” to be Cructher’s pastor, saying he attended the church “faithfully” with his family for years.
“He sang in the choir,” Terry Shannon said. “He had a beautiful voice.”
His sister and other family members called for murder charges to be filed, and referenced the “bad dude” comment made in the helicopter video, saying Crutcher’s life mattered.
“We are truly devastated, the entire family is devastated,” said Tiffany Crutcher, Terence’s twin sister. “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. … That big bad dude loved God. That big bad dude was at church singing with all his flaws every week. That big bad dude, that’s who he was.”
5. Protesters Gathered Monday at a Local Courthouse to Call for Justice, Saying Police ‘Didn’t Have to Kill Him’
Protesters gathered at the Tulsa County Courthouse on Monday to call for justice, holding signs with phrases including #BlackLivesMatter and “Didn’t have to kill him,” KTUL-TV reports.
City officials asked that protests remain peaceful, saying they will seek justice.
“I want to assure our community, and I want to assure all of you and people across the nation who are going to be looking at this, we will achieve justice, period,” Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said at a press conference, adding that the videos are “very disturbing” and “difficult” to watch.
A rally calling for Shelby’s arrest is scheduled for Tuesday night.
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