Here's what you need to know about the Terence Crutcher shooting and why it's important
The police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has been charged with first-degree manslaughter.
Terence Crutcher, 40, was shot dead by police officer, Betty Shelby, last Friday (September 16th) after his car stalled in the middle of the street. While initial police briefings claimed that Crutcher was being unresponsive with officers and had refused to put his hands up before leaning into his vehicle to reach for something, later video footage showed that he did indeed have his hands up and was obeying police instructions.
In the footage, Crutcher can be seen walking away from two police officers, Betty Shelby and Tyler Turnbough, with his hands raised before stopping at the door of his car. He then drops to the floor after being shocked by a stun gun and then fatally shot but Shelby.
Helicopter footage of the incident reveals someone saying, “Time for a Taser.” He then says, “That looks like a bad dude, too. Probably on something.”
It was reported by The Guardian that following the fatal shot officers left Crutcher on the ground bleeding for two minutes before responding. When quizzed about why no one offered assistance, a spokesperson for Tulsa police department, Jeanne MacKenzie, said that, “I don’t know that we have protocol on how to render aid to people.”
Following the incident, police chief Chuck Jordan announced that no weapons were found on Crutcher’s person or in his vehicle.
On Monday (September 19th), Crutcher’s sister,Tiffany Crutcher, requested that charges were brought towards offending officer, Betty Shelby.
Watch the moving speech below.
While Officer Shelby was placed on paid leave, Tulsa County’s district attorney, Steve Kunzweiler, yesterday (September 22nd) stated that he had filed a first-degree manslaughter charge against her.
Continuing, Kunzweiler expressed that he felt the charges were “warranted.”
This isn’t the first time that a police officer has been charged with manslaughter in Tulsa.
Last year, a 73-year-old reserve sheriff, Robert Bates, was charged with second-degree manslaughter after killing Eric Harris, an unarmed black man. At the time, Bates claimed that he mistook his taser for a firearm.
Even presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, a staunch opposer of the Black Lives Matter movement, and a supporter of police and the right to carry arms, said he was “troubled” by the incident.
What’s good to see is that there’s going to be a full criminal investigation into the killing of Crutcher. It is a step in the right direction.
Despite the high number of fatal shootings by police officers in America, very few result in murder or manslaughter charges being brought against officers. As Jody David Armour told the L.A. Times, it’s very hard to convict a police officer and jurors are often reluctant to convict.
Most notably, six Baltimore police officers were charged with the death of Freddy Gray, who died in April last year. Despite prosecutors maintaining that they had strong evidence against the officers, following a hung jury and a not-guilty verdict, all charges of manslaughter and second-degree murder were withdrawn.
So far this year, police in the United States of America have killed roughly 791 people, 194 of whom have been African American.
In comparison, in the same space of time police in the United Kingdom have killed two people. Last year, The Guardian introduced “The Counted,” a dedicated page that detailed that US police kill more in days than most countries do in years.
So what happens now?
Well, Betty Shelby was booked into the Tulsa County Jail this morning (September 23rd), before being released after posting a $50,000 bond. A date for trial is yet to be set. If convicted, she could face 4 years in prison.