Terence Crutcher was a 40 year old African American man who was fatally shot by Tulsa, Oklahoma police on September 16th after his car broke down. Crutcher was unarmed.
Crutcher’s Lincoln Navigator had stalled in the middle of the road near 36th Street and Lewis Avenue when police arrived to the scene. Here are five important facts regarding Crutcher’s shooting:
1. Tulsa police initially claimed through their spokesperson, Jeanne Mackenzie, who spoke to KOTV:
“As they approached the vehicle a black male started towards them. 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.”
2. The shooting was captured on dashcam. The video was shown to the family on Sunday and released to the public on Monday. The video appears to contradict the way that police described the incident in some very startling ways.
First, the video shows Crutcher with his hands up as he turns around and walks toward his vehicle with officer Betty Shelby in tow. Crutcher continues to keep his hands up as he approaches his SUV. A second officer is seen approaching with his taser drawn. As he is walking, Crutcher obviously has his back to the two officers.
When he approaches the front of his car, Crutcher appears to lean toward the car — perhaps to place his hands on the vehicle in response to a command, but that part is not clear.
Then a single shot is heard, Crutcher collapses to the ground, and Shelby radios “shots fired.”
3. Tulsa police released other videos. One of them is a video taken from the police helicopter which was circling the scene. The helicopter video corroborates the dashcam video. From this vantage point, it is a bit easier to see what occurred when Crutcher leaned over his vehicle.
4. An occupant — perhaps the pilot — of the helicopter is heard saying “looks like a bad dude … might be on something.” On the aerial video, Crutcher looks like he has his hands raised at all times, even when he leans toward the vehicle. He does not appear to make any movements — certainly no sudden movements. After the shooting, police seem to wait for an extended period of time before checking on Crutcher.
5. The officer who fired the shot that killed Crutcher — the only shot which appears to have been fired at the scene — is Betty Shelby. Before she was hired by the Tulsa police, she worked for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office from 2007 until 2011 according to KOKI-TV.
According to a police spokesman who spoke to the Tulsa World, Shelby’s husband, also a Tulsa police officer, “by happenstance” was in the helicopter.
Terence Crutcher had four children and was enrolled in a music appreciation class at college.