Terence Crutcher and snap judgments

Terence Crutcher (Photo: KJRH.com)

Terence Crutcher (Photo: KJRH.com)

Analysis: No one should live in fear, but to live according to snap judgment before all facts are known is worse – that is personal, community and national chaos.

Update: A warrant was issued Thursday for the arrest of Officer Betty Shelby, the Tulsa police officer who fatally shot Terence Crutcher Sept. 16.

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler announced a first-degree manslaughter charge against Shelby at a Thursday afternoon news conference.

Tulsans mourning the death of Terence Crutcher met at the Metropolitan Baptist Church Wednesday night with a reported crowd of over 700 people lamenting his death.

Media from the service show people from all walks of life, different religious backgrounds and all races participating.

Last Friday Crutcher was killed by a single bullet shot by five-year Tulsa Police Department veteran Betty Jo Shelby as he stood by his vehicle, which was stopped in the middle of a north Tulsa street. Officer Shelby remains on administrative leave while the shooting is under investigation by local authorities and the U.S Department of Justice which is reviewing the incident as a possible civil rights violation.

Crutcher and police (Photo frame capture from helicopter video)

Crutcher and police (Frame capture from helicopter video)

President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Donald J. Trump and media pundits are talking about Crutcher, but the investigation is not complete. All facts are not known. Nevertheless, in this age of instant rage, demagogues don’t need the complete set of facts if few facts fit preexisting narratives.

The Rev. Alexis Carter, an associate pastor, said at the service, “How long will we inhabit the land under the false notions of freedom. … How long, oh Lord, will your people be paralyzed by the fear that when their car is stopped, their lives may be stopped, also.”

Al Sharpton will sponsor a National Day of Justice and Peace, and the main rally will be held in Tulsa next Tuesday. Speaking in New York yesterday, Sharpton promised a peaceful rally but spoke harshly – apparently to increase public rage. Sharpton demanded an immediate trial for the officer who fired the fatal shot.

Al Sharpton and Tiffany Crutcher (Photo from Public Radio Tulsa)

Al Sharpton and Tiffany Crutcher (Photo: Public Radio)

“Let a jury hear the facts, but don’t smear a young man in death as you smeared his blood on the highway,” Sharpton said. “Don’t break the hearts of this family and their children any further when you tell us what we’re looking at is not what we see.”

The Crutcher family joined Sharpton at the news conference in Harlem. Crutcher’s sister, Tiffany, also called for immediate legal action.

Terence Crutcher and Betty Jo Shelby (Photo: Facebook)

Terence Crutcher and Betty Jo Shelby (Photo: Facebook)

“We’re demanding that leaders and the district attorney press charges immediately, and we’ll continue to put pressure on them until they do,” Tiffany Crutcher said. “That’s what we want, and when we do, that’s when we’ll get our peace.”

District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler apparently believes the facts compelling as he filed the first-degree manslaughter charge against Shelby when many observers expected a second-degree charge. Regardless, the case will be heard in open court and a jury of citizens will decide the case based on facts. Both Terence Crutcher and Betty Jo Shelby deserve no less.

2 thoughts on “Terence Crutcher and snap judgments

  1. Robert Cox

    When Officer Shelby encountered the SUV abandoned, facing west in the east bound traffic lane of 36th Street North, engine running with the driver’s door open, she stopped in the west bound lane about 2 car lengths away from the back of the SUV. [Her exact time of arrival has not been shared with the public.] She did turn on her light bar, as can be seen from Officer Turnbough’s dash camera as he goes thru the Lewis Avenue intersection about 7:43 pm. He arrives at the scene and exits his vehicle joining along side Officer Shelby at 7:44 pm. Officer Turnbough began his response to Officer Shelby’s call for back up shortly before 7:43 pm. Another police vehicle with two officers arrived from the east and the officers ran past the front of Officer Turnbough’s vehicle at 7:44 pm. The first camera shot clear enough to show the positions of Officer Shelby and Mr. Crutcher was taken at 7:44 and 21/100ths seconds pm showing Officer Shelby near the right rear corner of her vehicle and Mr. Crutcher near the right front corner of her vehicle. At 7:44 an 22/100ths seconds it is clear that Mr. Crutcher’s hands are up and he is facing away from Officer Shelby. [Because she had called for back up and his hands were raised, it is reasonable to deduce that her gun was drawn and she was feeling threatened. From TPD and her lawyer’s statements to the press, she had arrived on the scene and checked out the front seat from the driver’s side before Mr. Crutcher came up from behind her, and it appears she had retreated to the protection of her vehicle.] When she first arrived at the scene, she had not noticed Mr. Crutcher. It would be helpful to know when and why she pulled her gun out of its holster. It could have been when she was checking out the vehicle — before she encountered Mr. Crutcher. It would be helpful to know how long after she encountered Mr. Crutcher she felt the need to call for back up and why. Being a police officer is a stressful occupation.

  2. KJ O

    Two lives are destroyed. The families, friends and neighbors of those two humans will never be the same.

    On Friday, September 16, 2016, there were at least two 911 calls about a vehicle stopped in the middle of a main Tulsa thoroughfare. One caller stated there was a man running away from the vehicle yelling that it was going to blow up. Another caller stated the driver-side door was open on a vehicle blocking traffic in both directions. Police officers were dispatched.

    A female police officer, responding to a previous dispatch, was apparently the first to come upon the vehicle blocking the road. Eventually several other police cars and the police helicopter arrived on the scene. Several of those vehicles had cameras which recorded what happened after they arrived.

    But what happened before the tape began to roll? Let’s go back to before the 911 calls.

    When I took drivers education, I was told that if I experienced problems with my car, I should pull to the right, as far off the road as possible. The videos verify the 911 calls that the vehicle was in the middle of the two-lane road. However they do not show doors open.

    It is my experience that when a police officer arrives on a disabled vehicle situation, they turn on their signal lights, and I understand that action causes the dash camera to start recording. Apparently the first-on-scene officer did not do that. No video from that cruiser has been seen by the public.

    Social media comments have tried both people in this situation, and negative conclusions have been drawn. But in truth, only those two people know what happened before the videos were made.

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