There is no doubt that we deliberately chose to write black and white in the headline — to help you see things in black and white. The question is: Will you get angry at the racist undertone or the racism-fueled murder?
Last week, it was reported that Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby had fatally shot a 40-year-old pastor, Terence Crutcher, standing by his broken down SUV in the middle of the road. Tulsa Police spokesperson Jeanne MacKenzie initially claimed that Crutcher refused Shelby’s commands to raise his hands; instead he walked toward his SUV. At that point, he was first tasered by Officer Tyler Turnbough and then shot once by Shelby, before he died in the hospital on Friday.
However, the dashboard camera footage tells a different story: Crutcher did have his hands in the air as police approached him. The video clip shows a female officer following Crutcher as he walked towards his SUV with his hands up. As Crutcher approached the driver’s side of the SUV, three male officers walked up and surrounded him. At that point, Crutcher can be seen dropping to the ground after being tasered. Then almost immediately, Shelby can be seen firing before the electric jolt could even knock Crutcher to the ground.
The footage shot from a police helicopter hovering overhead, also shows Crutcher with his hands in the air as he was spoken to by Tulsa police officers.
“He’s got his hands up there for her now,” one of the two officers in the helicopter said of Crutcher. “Time for a Taser, I think,” the second officer could be heard saying, “That looks like a bad dude, too. Could be on something.” “I’ve got a feeling that’s about to happen,” the first officer could be heard speculating.
Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan told reporters that officers found no gun on Crutcher or in his SUV. Finding the video footage “very disturbing and very difficult to watch,” Jordan said:
“I want to assure our community, I want to assure all of you, and I want to assure people across the nation who are going to be looking at this, we will achieve justice, period.”
Rodney Goss, a pastor at the Morning Star Baptist Church in north Tulsa, told The Tulsa World that he was appalled after seeing the video clips.
“His hands were in the air from all views. It was not apparent from any angle at any point he lunged, came toward, aggressively attacked, or made any sudden movements that would have been considered a threat or life-threatening toward the officer…
“It wasn’t a matter of minutes; it was a matter of moments. As quick as the officer released the Taser from his hand, he was falling to the ground having already been shot… 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.”
Crutcher’s twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, told reporters her brother had left a class at Tulsa Community College when his SUV stalled on East 36th Street North at around 8pm.
“We just want answers, we want to know what happened, there’s a lot of speculation, but there is one thing, one fact that I do know is that my brother was unarmed. I’m just devastated.”
The heartbroken family’s attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons wants to know when Crutcher’s hands were in the air, why was he shot.
“Crutcher was in the area because his car stalled and officers saw him while on an unrelated call and approached.’From that point, I do not know what occurred. We have no idea, and that’s what is so difficult for us and the family. That’s our job, to try to get answers for this family as they’re mourning… We saw that Terence did not have any weapon. Terence did not make any sudden movements. We saw that Terence was not being belligerent.”
U.S. Attorney Danny C. Williams said the Department of Justice will conduct a separate civil rights investigation into the shooting.
“The Justice Department is committed to investigating allegations of force by law enforcement officers and will devote whatever resources are necessary to ensure that all allegations of serious civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated.”
Meanwhile, Shelby and Turnbough have been sent on paid vacation, otherwise known as administrative leave customarily ‘rewarded’ to white police officers after the use of fatal force on innocent unarmed black Americans.
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