Back in September we posted about an officer who shot a man with his hands up. Reports at the time were the officer could not see the man’s hands, but all video of the incident clearly showed his hands were visible. Since the story emerged more information became available including interviews by 60 Minutes of the officer and the family of the man who was killed. Also toxicology reports were released showing the man had PCP in his system.
The charge against the officer was first degree manslaughter. Reports indicate the jury was charged to decide if Officer Shelby “acted in a manner that was inexcusable or unjustified, or whether the motorist, Terence Crutcher, died as a result of his own actions.” The jury asked to explain their verdict, but was denied by the judge. Officer Shelby mentioned on 60 Minutes (linked below) she was in fear for her life. While this may be unpopular, I suggest she may want to rethink her chosen profession as a police officer. Non-lethal force was available and she had backup at the time of the shooting. While Mr. Crutcher could have potentially entered his vehicle and retrieved a weapon (none was actually found in the vehicle), in my opinion he was not demonstrating a threat at the time he was shot. There can be no doubt Officer Shelby was in fear for her life based on her comments, but if she fears every person who walks away with their hands up this is not the profession for her long term. Mr. Crutcher failed to follow commands and that ultimately caused his demise. It’s easy to play armchair quarterback after an event, but what should have happened in this situation is the taser should have been used by the second officer before deadly force was instigated. The jury has decided the fate of Officer Shelby based on the evidence and testimony presented. Hopefully the Tulsa Police Department will work on training their officers so the next time deadly force is applied it will clearly be necessary and not require the officer and the family of the deceased to relive the event to determine guilt.