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.
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.
“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.
“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.