By LIZ MACLEAN
An unarmed black man was shot by police on Friday, Sept. 16 while he was working on his stalled car in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Footage from the scene shows Terence Crutcher walking toward his broken-down SUV with his hands up. Three officers surround Crutcher, who puts his hands on his car. Crutcher then drops to the ground and soon after someone is heard saying “Shots fired!” Crutcher’s head falls to the pavement immediately after.
Crutcher lay on the ground for two minutes, blood collecting around his body, before anyone checked on him.
On Sept. 19, the Tulsa Police Department stated that Betty Shelby, a white Tulsa police officer, shot Crutcher with a taser and then fatally with a gun. Another officer, Tyler Turnbough, also used a stun gun on Crutcher, according to police.
A helicopter with video of the scene reveals a man in the helicopter saying, “Time for a taser,” as Crutcher walked towards his car, and then, “That looks like a bad dude, too. Probably on something.”
The orders Officer Shelby received or the reasons she shot Crutcher are still unknown. There are ongoing local and federal investigations to see if Crutcher’s civil rights were disregarded during the shooting, and whether Shelby should be charged criminally.
Police briefings say that Crutcher wasn’t listening to what the officers were saying, but police spokeswoman Jeanne MacKenzie said that she didn’t know the reason for the shooting.
Two people called 911 right before the shooting, saying that there was an SUV in the middle of the road with a driver who was acting strangely. One caller stated that they thought he was smoking something.
Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, stated that this incident shows “how little regard” police have for minorities in Tulsa.
Crutcher’s story has flown under the radar on social media and mainstream news. When asked if she had heard of the incident, junior marketing major Jodi Hansen said she had briefly scrolled past a video on Facebook, but hadn’t seen or heard any other information.
“I think it just contributes to this ongoing problem of police brutality and we need to get more details about what really happened,” Hansen said.
US Attorney Danny Williams Sr. of the northern district of Oklahoma, which contains Tulsa, said that the Justice Department is looking into whether Crutcher’s civil rights were violated in the incident.
“The Justice Department is committed to investigating allegations of excessive force by law enforcement officers, and will devote whatever resources necessary to ensure that all allegations of civil-rights violations are fully and completely investigated,” Williams said.
Liz MacLean can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org