Note: Originally published on Sept. 20.
On Sept. 16, 40-year-old Terence Crutcher was fatally shot by Officer Betty Shelby in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Crutcher, an African-American father of four and a student returning from class at a local community college, was confronted by police officers after they responded to a call stating that an abandoned car was blocking the highway.
Upon arriving at the scene, Officer Shelby called for backup stating that Crutcher was not cooperating. Mere minutes after backup arrived, Crutcher was on the ground, fatally shot and moments from death. In the footage taken from a helicopter above the scene, Crutcher is seen walking slowly back to his car with his hands in the air. He is seen stopping by the driver’s door for a few seconds, then being tased by another officer and shot by Officer Shelby.
Sadly, this situation in not an abnormality.
This year, there have been 708 reported deaths caused by police. 173 of the reported deaths were African-Americans. A report released by the FBI documented 12,765 people who were killed by police officers between 2008 and 2012; 55.1 percent were African-American men.
That totals over 7,000 men.
More often than not, the officers are not charged. Crutcher’s twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, is pushing for charges of manslaughter against Shelby. According to Scott Wood, an attorney representing Officer Shelby, Crutcher refused to follow commands to get on his knees and he could have had a gun. Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the Crutcher family, asked “Why is an unarmed black man who has committed no crime, who only needed a helping hand, given bullets in his lung?”
A key point of the case is whether the driver-side window was open or closed. Wood stated that “[Shelby] was yelling at him to stop, for probably at least ten to 15 seconds…his left hand goes into the window.” Crump replied “How could he be reaching into the car if the window is up and there is blood on the glass?”