Video released by law enforcement on Monday shows police officers in Tulsa, Oklahoma fatally shooting an unarmed black man whose car was stalled in the middle of the street.
Police originally claimed that 40-year-old Terence Crutcher was not cooperating with officers when they arrived for a routine traffic stop on Friday night. They said that he would not raise his hands in the air when instructed to. Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby called dispatch saying Mr Crutcher was not complying before fatally shooting him at the scene. Officer Tyler Turnbough also fired his Taser and the entire confrontation was recorded via dash cam.
However, in the video, Mr Crutcher can be seen raising his arms in the air in the middle of the street. He stood beside his driver’s side window as several police officers stood behind him with their weapons raised. Seconds later a single shot was fired from the officer. He falls and his bloodied body lied limp beside his vehicle. Officers appeared to wait more than one minute before approaching Mr Crutcher’s body.
It remains unclear exactly why the officer fired her weapon.
“We’re truly devastated. The entire family is devastated,” Mr Crutcher’s twin sister Tiffany Crutcher told The Washington Post. “That big bad dude was a father, that big bad dude was a son, that big bad dude was enrolled at Tulsa Community College just wanting to make us all proud, that big bad dude loved God, that big bad dude was in church singing with all of his flaws every week.”
His family members and community leaders called for justice after reviewing the dash cam footage of the fatal shooting. “We saw that Terence did not have any weapon,” family attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons told reporters on Monday. “Terence did not make any sudden movements. We saw that Terence was not being belligerent.”
Nearly a dozen protesters gathered outside the Tulsa County courthouse following the news conference, calling for justice in the case.
The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice will also conduct an independent investigation of the shooting. “The justice department is committed to investigating allegations of force by law enforcement officers and will devote whatever resources are necessary to ensure that all allegations of serious civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated,” US Attorney Danny C Williams said in a statement.
“He needed help, he needed a hand. And what he got was a bullet in the lungs,” Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney, told The Post. Mr Crump compared the shooting to the 2015 killing of Corey Jones in Florida, another black man who was fatally shot by police after he phoned 911 for help when his vehicle broke down.
“What was Terence Crutcher’s crime?” Mr Crump asked. “When unarmed people of color break down on the side of the road, we’re not treated as citizens needing help, we’re treated as criminals, as suspects.”