Friday, September 23, 2016

7 Facts Concerning the Tragic Death of Terence Crutcher (Updated)

1.) Terrence Crutcher abandoned his SUV while it was running.  According to a 911 caller, he believed that it was "gonna blow up."  The car did not seem to give any indication that it was going to explode, which lends credence to the caller's suspicion that he was, indeed, "smoking something".  As we'll see further below (see # 4), there is an additional reason to believe that drugs may have played a role in his apparently bizarre behavior.

2.) According to Officer Shelby, Crutcher was refusing commands. This is a credible claim; if officers have their guns aimed at him, it means that they perceive him (rightly or wrongly) as a serious potential threat, and thus they'd presumably want him to remain in place (as opposed to returning to his SUV). Consider, also, comments from officers in the chopper who were observing the event from above: "He's got his hands up" "This guy's still walking." These imply that he refused earlier commands to put his hands up and stop walking.

3.) According to an officer in the chopper, Crutcher looked like a "bad dude". This is a pretty dumb comment, as it invites the charge of racism. That said, if he was in fact refusing commands, he was certainly acting like a "bad dude".

4.) PCP was reportedly discovered in Crutcher's car. This doesn't necessarily prove that he was intoxicated at the moment (the toxicology report hasn't been released yet). However, his apparently uncooperative behavior (see # 1) suggests that he might have been.

5.) There's disagreement on whether Crutcher's window was rolled up at the time. One attorney presented an enlarged photo appearing to show that the window was up and smeared with blood. A source in the Tulsa PD says that it was at least partially rolled down. Either way, what I believe really matters is whether Shelby had a reason to suspect that it was rolled down (it's possible that she couldn't have known for sure, given where she was standing).

6.) Crutcher did not seem to have his hands up at the moment before the tasing and shooting (watch the full video for yourself). It's unfortunate that we're led to believe that he did.

7.) Officer Shelby reportedly has a "history of drug abuse, domestic disturbances." The drug part is utterly irrelevant (she smoked pot twice, apparently). However, she and an ex-boyfriend filed restraining orders against one other (which were later dropped). She also had a protective order filed against her by her ex-husband's new wife (which was denied), as well as two excessive force complaints (which were held to be unfounded).

My conclusion: Shelby is a possibly unstable officer who, at the very worst, exaggerated the threat posed by an apparently uncooperative man whose identity as an African-American has not been proven to be relevant, despite the media's thirst for sensationalism. "That may be why the charge is only manslaughter," a friend of mine remarked after I expressed these thoughts.  However, my concern is not with the legal charge, but with the "public charge" leveled on her.  Incidents like the shooting death of Walter Scott are obvious cases of police abuse; this one isn't as clear-cut.