Police Abuse

Tulsa Police Shoot and Kill Unarmed Man, Called a 'Bad Dude' By One Officer

Terence Crutcher was shot and tased by officers, received no immediate medical attention.

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A true threat?
Tulsa PD

Tulsa police shot and killed Terence Crutcher, a 40-year-old unarmed man, last Friday. Newly released video from a police helicopter and a police cruiser's dashboard cam show the last minutes of his life, as he walks with his hands raised toward his SUV parked on the dividing line of a two-lane street, while 3 officers have their guns drawn on him.

Officers were responding to a 911 call about an abandoned vehicle blocking traffic—Crutcher's SUV—and a man who might have been "smoking something" running from the car in fear that it was about to blow up.

None of the officers were wearing body cameras, despite the fact that the Tulsa PD received a federal grant of nearly $600,000 to equip the department with such gear. Because of the lack of body cams, it's not clear what made the officers on the ground feel they needed to draw their guns on Crutcher, who though he had his hands raised, apparently refused officers' instructions to not approach his vehicle.

What is clear from the helicopter video is that even from afar, police considered this unarmed man a threat. One of the two officers speaking on the helicopter video notes that Crutcher is walking towards his vehicle, and appears to in defiance of the officers' commands:

Officer 1: Time for taser, I think.

Officer 2: Yeah, I've got a feeling that's about to happen.

Officer 1: That looks like a bad dude, too. Probably on something.

Seconds later, Crutcher can be seen dropping to the ground. Then, a female voice is heard yelling "shots fired," as the helicopter's point-of-view reveals Crutcher's bloodied body. It takes nearly two minutes for the officers to even approach him to check his vital signs. Police spokesperson Jeanne MacKenzie later said at a police briefing, "I don't know that we have protocol on how to render aid to people," according to the Chicago Tribune.

Crutcher was shot by Officer Betty Shelby and tased by Officer Tyler Turnbough, both of whom were placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. Police Chief Chuck Jordan conceded the video footage of the shooting is "very disturbing" and "very difficult to watch." U.S. Attorney Danny Williams confirmed a federal investigation into the shooting has been initiated.

Earlier this year, Robert Bates, a Tulsa county reserve deputy, was sentenced to four years in prison over the 2015 shooting of unarmed Eric Harris during an undercover sting operation. Bates, a 73-year-old insurance executive at the time, claimed he thought he was reaching for his Taser when he fatally shot Harris. It was later revealed that Bates received no firearm training, but was allowed to work in the field with the Violent Crimes Task Force, a division of the Sheriff's Office to which he had make significant financial contributions. As Harris lay dying, complaining of difficulty breathing, another deputy officer told him "Fuck your breath."

Video via The Washington Post below (Warning: Graphic and disturbing content)

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  1. Police spokesperson Jeanne MacKenzie later said at a police briefing, “I don’t know that we have protocol on how to render aid to people,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

    You may want to hire a new spokesperson.

    1. Rendering aid is no job for the police.

    2. She learned her trade from Gary Johnson.

  2. “Bad Dude”? Is it still 1985 in Tulsa?

    Anyways, is it wrong if I’m becoming numb to these? We’ve seen this game time and time in the past and we already know what the outcome will be. The beatings will continue until morale improves.

    1. Also, Bad Dudes was a 1980s video game with the greatest hook ever:

      “The President has been captured by ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to save the President?”

      I mean, come on.

      I’m posting this for levity so I don’t punch a hole through the wall.

  3. This federal investigation, unlike all of those other federal investigations, will solve everything!

  4. it’s not clear what made the officers on the ground feel they needed to draw their guns on Crutcher, who though he had his hands raised, apparently refused officers’ instructions to not approach his vehicle.

    What made them feel they needed to draw their guns? He refused to OBEY. That’s punishable by death.

    Police spokesperson Jeanne MacKenzie later said at a police briefing, “I don’t know that we have protocol on how to render aid to people,”

    It’s not their job to aid people, it’s their job to shoot them. Actually helping people is someone else’s job.

    1. He refused to OBEY. That’s punishable by death.

      Yep. Police do not enforce the law. They enforce their will. Their job is to gain compliance, even if their orders are not lawful. Obey or die. Period.

      It’s not their job to aid people, it’s their job to shoot them. Actually helping people is someone else’s job.

      Not totally true. In many departments officers are required to give aid. Then again when they face no consequences for failing to do as required, it becomes a moot point.

      1. A theoretical benefit of having a policy on aid is that if it is ignored, their may be a chance that some court might not find qualified immunity.
        I would wager that the shooting was a “hang on – tasers don’t go boom. Tasers don’t go boom!” incident, which may be enough for immediate dismissal, but not enough in itself to lose QI.

        The $600,000 grant for bodycams yet still no footage is what ground, stripped, then sent flying my gears.

        1. Qualified immunity applies to law, not policy. There is no law that says they must render aid. So it becomes an internal matter that usually results in more training that is presumably done on overtime.

        2. The $600,000 grant for bodycams yet still no footage is what ground, stripped, then sent flying my gears.

          That got my attention too. WTF was that money used for instead? Obviously it wasn’t used for additional training to teach their pigs to tell the difference between a pistol grip and a tazer (assuming the theory that this was another “I meant to grab tazer instead – oops” scenarios).

          Although something tells me even they had bought bodycams the cameras would have mysteriously malfunctioned.

          1. What difference would bodycams make ? The cops have figured out that most people are Ok with what they do. Seeing it on video hasn’t changed a damn thing. Probably made it worse as they’ve realized that they can get caught on video doing this shit and still no consequences.

        3. I love their backing off “tactic”, after the guy is laying on the ground, motionless! It makes them look like cowards! I think it is far past time for a change in training!

  5. My guess is that the investigation will say that the officer thought she was holding her taser and accidentally shot Crutcher with her firearm. Whether that’s true or not one thing is for sure; it will be called “unfortunate”…. maybe even “tragic”………and nobody will be held accountable.

  6. His assault SUV was really threatening.

  7. From the video: Guns drawn on him. Apparently refused officers’ instructions NOT to approach his vehicle. Black people must like to get shot/killed.

    1. Go away, Tulpa. Your manager at McDonalds is wondering why you keep disappearing.

    2. It did appear that he was not real bright. The situation is still messed up. Why in the world would the woman discharge her weapon?! But, people that refuse to listen, put themselves in danger. That is of their own making! With more cowardly appearing people in uniform, it just goes to say, don’t endanger your own life by giving them any reason to become aggressive against you. You know?! The ARE armed!!

      1. “Why in the world would the woman discharge her weapon?!”
        Perhaps because Crutcher lowered his hands to his sides about 13 seconds before he was shot. Perhaps because the 911 caller said Crutcher had originally run from his car because he thought it was about to blow up, and he now appeared to be trying to open the door. Perhaps the cops thought it might blow up.

  8. He had charges 20 years ago. Clearly he was hopped up on bath salts, with the strength of 20 normal men, plus he was armed, since he had arms. Most importantly, the Brave Heros made it safely home that night. Clearly a good shoot.

  9. So, since there are multiple officers, is there some reason why one of them can’t go around to the front of the SUV and cut him off from it? Seems like an obvious tactic.

    1. They don’t need tactics. They are to be obeyed. Failure to obey is a threat to officer safety that must be met with deadly force.

    2. is there some reason why one of them can’t go around to the front of the SUV and cut him off from it? Seems like an obvious tactic.

      And get between the “bad dude” who’s “probably on something” and his SUV? That sounds like it might be dangerous, and it’s not the cop’s job to face danger. It’s their job to shoot “bad dudes” who are “probably on something” and go home safe each night.

      1. If you are not a bad dude and you’re not on something, then you’ve go nothing to worry about.

    3. Because then they would be in the line of fire of the other officers?

  10. 21 foot rule. If getting between the suspect and the SUV meant coming within 21 feet of the suspect, he could surely have their guts for suspenders. It’s the Tueller Drill*, which, like, is practically policy.

    *Notice the third and most effective response to a knife armed suspect is running away from the suspect, keeping him in gun range while denying him a knife attack. But this does not involve macho rushing of the perp, and can lead to deescalation of the situation, so is probably a firing offense

    1. Meant as response to Spartacus @ 10:16AM

    2. FTA:

      But just then, two other Weirton officers arrived on the scene, Mr. Williams walked toward them waving his gun ? later found to be unloaded ? between them and Mr. Mader, and one of them shot Mr. Williams’ in the back of the head just behind his right ear, killing him.

      [Emphasis added] Was he backing toward them? Also, that kind of shooting accuracy makes it obvious to me that the cop wasn’t scared for his life. If he had been, he would have gone into full panic fire mode and emptied the whole magazine, hitting the intended target maybe once out of 12-15 shots.

  11. I think he may have just been tasered.

    The cop’s tone sounds like, “Yeah, of course. I saw that coming.” Then they find out the cops just gunned the “bad dude” down. Crazy.

  12. Remember when there was a little hope after one of these incidents (Tamir Rice, maybe ?). The thought was with citizens recording, or body cams the videos would show people the reality, and that would result in change.

    Well, people are seeing it, and for the most part are OK with it. Read the comments on the web or listen to radio call in shows. People are down with the “Obey or Die” rule. So it is not going to change.

    You got that. If you have any hope left in your soul that this shit is gonna change, snuff it.

    1. ^^Yup.

      The cops shot him ’cause he was black! /Progderp

      He should have complied with their instructions! /Conserva-derp

      Almost everybody seems to miss the point of desperately needed policing policy reform entirely.

    2. Shit in one hand, hope in the other. See which one fills up first.

      1. Yup, I learned that saying from my Dad. I just wish he had taught me about metaphors first.

        1. Where is Swissy when you need a narrow gaze?

    3. Remember when there was a little hope after one of these incidents

      Ah, yes. ‘Twas a simpler time, before the dark times… before the cynicism had fully taken hold and destroyed whatever tiny trace of hope for a better future I had naively clung too. Before I had fully embraced the cynical asshole side.

  13. Police spokesperson Jeanne MacKenzie later said at a police briefing, “I don’t know that we have protocol on how to render aid to people,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

    So Tulsa has at least three crackerjack law enforcement officers who are great at their job.

  14. Crutcher was shot by Officer Betty Shelby and tased by Officer Tyler Turnbough…

    I’d say Officer Betty accidentally grabbed her gun instead of her taser.

  15. I just can’t understand what he was doing. He had his hands up so he obviously new cops get twitchy when they can’t see your hands. Why go back to your car? Did he reach into his car? I can’t tell from the helicopter video.

    1. Neither did the cops……so just to be safe they decided they better shoot him. Good Derp!

  16. Judging from the helicopter video, the car doors were closed and the windows were rolled up.

  17. You’ve got four cops there, so I imagine one was telling him to keep his hands up get on his knees, another was telling him to get on the ground, another to turn around and back towards them with his hands behind his head, and another to put his hands on his vehicle.

    They are trained to give conflicting commands to disorientate and confuse the person, and then kill them when they fail to obey. Once they start down that path, there is no other possible outcome. It is how they are trained to murder someone who scares them but isn’t an actual threat, and then get away with it because they followed their training.

    1. well I guess it’s safe to ignore any other opinion you might espouse in the future.

      1. Hide the donuts!

      2. Fuck off, Tulpa.

  18. So, we ready to take a close look at the video? The thing I notice is that you hear the shot around 1:19 (this is the dash cam view) and Crutcher doesn’t go down until almost ten seconds later. Even then, Ofc. Shelby sounds like she is having a major Oh Shit! moment as she says “shots fired”, which is a little weird if you’ve watched all the other videos where the cops calling ‘shots fired’ are usually pretty calm.

    My guess: Ofc. Shelby either thought she was firing her Taser, or she had her finger on the trigger and squeezed it by accident. There were four other cops right next to her–someone is going to talk sooner or later.

  19. What’s the point of this article?
    The “suspect” (you can see him in the video, leaving no doubt) walked to the car and reached in to get something.
    So, go out there and wait till he shoots your ass.
    What’s the point of this article?
    Don’t lie and pretend it’s just a report.

  20. What’s the point of this article?
    The “suspect” (you can see him in the video, leaving no doubt) walked to the car and reached in to get something.
    So, go out there and wait till he shoots your ass.
    What’s the point of this article?
    Don’t lie and pretend it’s just a report.

  21. Obviously, shooting an unarmed man after he was already tasered
    is not ok. But, why did the guy leave his vehicle running in the middle
    of the highway while blocking both lanes?

    And what was he doing by the side of the road? So, he either was
    on something, or had a medical event of some sort, or maybe
    had to take an enormous emergency dump?

  22. Did everyone at the scene have 100% certainty that he carried no weapon of any sort?
    Perhaps if he had followed the instructions of LE – to the letter and without any ambiguity – he would not have been shot.
    Yes, I’m blaming the “victim” here.

  23. Remember the good old days when cops would just beat the shit out of you. Real cops didn’t use tasers or mace.

  24. What do they teach you in weapons training? Don’t draw your weapon unless you intend to use it. Don’t brandish it, don’t threaten to use it. When a cop draws his or her pistol and points it at you and tells you to do some dumb shit, you do it, because the next thing that happens is that he or she will shoot you. Cops are trained to shoot accurately, but I’m amazed that there only seems to be one shot. I thought you kept on firing until the gun goes click instead of bang. What did the guy want from his car, who knows. Should the officers have waited to find out, I think not.

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