On Monday, police in Tulsa, Okla. released dashcam and helicopter footage of an unarmed black man being shot during a stop to help with car trouble. The incident took place last Friday when Terence Crutcher was driving home from his community college classes. The disturbing footage — which initially shows Crutcher being approached by four officers while he stood with his hands in the air — has arrived in different incarnations on the local CBS affiliate station, on YouTube, and on the Twitter account of Shawn King (of the New York Daily News).
ABC News reports that Crutcher was not armed when police shot him, nor did his vehicle contain any weapons. The known facts of this case, which are not in dispute, is that Crutcher was tasered by Officer Tyler Turnbough, then fatally shot by Officer Betty Shelby, and left lying in the street for almost two minutes before officers approached him again. Again, he was not armed. King has publicly called for the arrest of Shelby after viewing the footage.
Tulsa police claim that Crutcher resisted holding his hands up after being ordered to do so, but the released footage doesn’t make his actions (or those of the officers) after these claimed orders entirely clear. The dashcam video shows Crutcher holding his hands up in the air and slowly walking from a police vehicle towards his SUV while Shelby walks behind him, and the three male officers follow. All four officers are blocking the line of sight from the dashcam. The helicopter footage also remains unclear (although a voice can be heard remarking, “That looks like a bad dude”), for Crutcher’s SUV blocks the moment when he was shot. He was standing several feet away from all four officers when shots were fired.
The death of Crutcher follows an April 2015 fatal Tulsa shooting of another unarmed black man, Eric Harris, by an associate of then-Sheriff Stanley Glanz. Robert Bates claimed he accidentally shot Harris after confusing his gun with a taser. Bates was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in April 2016.
In response to Crutcher’s death, Tulsa’s NBC affiliate reports a statement from Police Chief Chuck Jordan, who stated that “nothing would be swept under the rug” during a thorough investigation. He welcomes protests of Jordan’s death, but along with Tulsa city leaders, requests that protesters remain peaceful and that the public stay calm. Jordan has vowed, “We will achieve justice in this case.” A burgeoning protest has formed outside the Tulsa County Courthouse in response to the public release of footage.