Officer's attorney says she had gun out because she was first to arrive, perceived threat
Terence Crutcher, an unarmed man, was shot and killed by a police officer
From different angles, the videos show the same scene.
An unarmed black man walks on a Tulsa, Oklahoma, road with his hands in the air. Police officers follow closely behind him as he approaches his vehicle. He stands beside the car, then falls to the ground after one officer pulls the trigger.
Now 40-year-old Terence Crutcher is dead. Crutcher’s sister is demanding that prosecutors charge the officer who shot him. And the police videos of the incident are fueling criticism about the case.
Federal, state and local authorities are investigating the Friday night shooting.
Crutcher’s family says he was waiting for help on the road after his SUV broke down.
The officer’s attorney says she was afraid Crutcher was reaching for a weapon when she opened fire. Attorney Benjamin Crump, part of the legal team representing Crutcher’s family, countered at a Tuesday news conference that Crutcher’s window was rolled up, making it unlikely he was reaching into the car.
911 call reported man running from vehicle
Two 911 calls brought officers to the scene about 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The first came from a woman who said an abandoned vehicle was blocking the street and a man was running away, warning that it was going to blow up.
“Somebody left their vehicle running in the middle of the street with their doors wide open,” the caller said. “The doors are open, the vehicle is still running. It’s an SUV. It’s in the middle of the street, it’s blocking traffic.”
Officer Betty Shelby was the first to arrive, but she wasn’t responding to the 911 call, said her attorney, Scott Wood. Shelby was en route to a domestic violence call when she encountered Crutcher, who she thought might be impaired, and then the SUV in the middle of the road, Wood said.
She asked Crutcher whether the car belonged to him but got no response, the attorney said. Crutcher began walking toward her with his hands in his pockets. She politely asked Crutcher to take his hands out of his pocket while they were speaking, Wood said.
“He does comply and puts his hands out of his pocket, and then puts his hands up in the air, which she thought was a little bit strange under the circumstances,” he said.
Crutcher continued to ignore Shelby’s questions about the vehicle and at one point walks toward the back of the police cruiser and puts his hands back in his pockets, the attorney said. Shelby called dispatch and was intent on arresting him because she thought he was under the influence of something, he said.
She drew her gun and ordered Crutcher to get on his knees, which he refused to do, Wood said. He instead walked toward his car.
‘Very disturbing’ video
Videos police released Monday show some of what happened next. The footage is “very disturbing and difficult to watch,” Tulsa police Chief Chuck Jordan told reporters.
The videos show Shelby and several other officers at the scene.
Tulsa police officers also were flying above the scene in a helicopter, capturing the incident from an on-board camera. Footage from multiple police cameras show Crutcher walking toward his SUV in the middle of the road, hands raised, followed closely by Shelby and three other officers. They approach Crutcher, who continued to walk back to his car, where he appeared to move his hands toward the vehicle.
Circling above the scene, one police officer in the helicopter can be heard referring to Crutcher as a “bad dude.”
Jeanne MacKenzie, Tulsa police spokeswoman, said that the responding officers on the ground thought Crutcher had reached into the driver’s side window of the vehicle.
Moments later, as Crutcher stands beside his vehicle, the video shows him fall to the ground
“I think he may have just been Tasered,” an officer says over the radio.
“Shots fired!” a female officer says.
In the video, Crutcher lies in the middle of the street, motionless with blood on his shirt, soon to be dead.
Sister slams officer’s ‘negligence and incompetency’
At a news conference Monday, Tiffany Crutcher said she believes her twin brother Terence died because of a Tulsa police officer’s “negligence and incompetency and insensitivity.”
Just a month ago, she said, the twins had celebrated their 40th birthday. Terence, a God-loving father of four who sang at church every week, had enrolled at a community college in Tulsa, where he hoped to earn a degree, she said.
“I’m going to show you,” Terence recently texted his sister. “I’m going to make you all proud.”
Now, she said, charges should be pressed to ensure justice is served. According to his sister, that’s the least that should happen given Crutcher won’t be able to make his family proud like he had hoped.
“And because he was a big bad dude,” she said referring back to the police helicopter tape, “he’ll never get that chance.”
Officer’s attorney: There’s more to the story
Wood says there’s more to the story than the videos show.
“He had a very hollow look in his face, kind of a thousand-yard stare, so to speak, and would not communicate. And she could tell he was not normal. She thought that when she saw him,” he said.
And when the officer opened fire, according to her attorney, she thought Crutcher was retrieving a weapon from his car.
“She was yelling at him to stop, for probably at least 10 to 15 seconds. He gets to the window of the SUV, and has his hands in the air, looks at them … and his left hand goes into the window,” at which point one officer deployed his Taser and Shelby fired her service weapon. Shelby had a Taser but did not take it out, the attorney said.
Wood told CNN in a follow-up interview that his client had her gun out because she was the only officer there for a few minutes and she thought Crutcher was armed. The second officer had a Taser because the “proper tactic … in that scenario is for second person … to have less lethal (weapon),” said Wood, a former police officer.
The incident has nothi