Terence Crutcher shooting Officer: “if he would’ve just done as I asked him”
60 Minutes interview of Betty Shelby
Back in September 2016 Terence Crutcher — a quite large black man — was shot and killed by white police officer Betty Shelby in Tulsa OK.
I covered the case evidence in a prior post, Legal Game Changer: Terence Crutcher had “High Levels” of PCP when shot by OK police. Included in that post is an extensive discussion of the history and legal significance of a suspect not obeying instructions and returning to his vehicle.
Shelby has since been charged with manslaughter, and last night she appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes television show. (Video here, not embed possible).
The segment was hosted by correspondent Bill Whitaker.
At the time of the shooting Crutcher was acting in a bizarre manner, wandering down the road in the dark after having apparently left his vehicle unattended and running in the middle of the roadway (across the two lanes of traffic). Shelby initially drove past Crutcher on her way to a domestic violence call, but stopped when she encountered the abandoned car. (Because her siren was not on, her dash camera was not recording.)
Crutcher walked onto the scene shortly thereafter, and their interaction would begin near Shelby’s patrol car, parked a short distance behind Crutcher’s vehicle.
On autopsy it was found that Crutcher had PCP in his system, and a vial of PCP was found in his car. He had previously served a four-year prison sentence for dealing crack cocaine.
Shelby initially inquired if the abandoned vehicle was Crutcher’s. He was non-responsive, however, and his very blank affect led Shelby to wonder whether he might be high on PCP, a drug known to be associated with acts of violence. Crutcher was substantially larger than Shelby. Crutcher also repeatedly placed his hands in his pockets, despite Shelby’s orders to the contrary.
Shelby grew concerned that he was looking for a weapon in his pockets. This sufficiently alarmed Shelby that she drew her sidearm to a ready position, and radioed for backup, stating that she was dealing with a non-compliant suspect who would not show his hands.
Around this time Officer Tyler Turnbough arrived on scene, with his siren and dash camera operating. The resultant video shows Crutcher walking slowly from the patrol car to his own vehicle, with Shelby a short distance behind him. His hands were raised, but he was otherwise completely non-compliant with the officer as he approached his car. At this point Shelby was concerned that Crutcher was moving to his vehicle to obtain the weapon he had not found in his pocket.
Officer Turnbough exited his patrol car and quickly runs up beside Shelby, drawing his Taser device as he does so. Turnbough, also interviewed on 60 minutes, states that he chose to deploy his Taser because Shelby already had her gun drawn. If Shelby had had her own Taser drawn, he said, he would have drawn his gun.
The two officers are now between Crutcher and the dash camera of Turnbough’s patrol car, so it becomes difficult to see Crutcher with any great deal of clarity. It is clear, however, that he has approached the driver side door of his car, the window of which was open.
Crutcher Reaches Into His Vehicle
At this point both Officer Shelby and Officer Turnbough state that Crutcher moved to reach into the vehicle. As Shelby describes the events on 60 Minutes:
His shoulder dropped, his arm dropped, and he’s reaching in[to the car]. It’s fast.
Shelby ended the aired interview with this comment:
Bill Whitaker: Was Terence Crutcher’s an avoidable death?
Betty Shelby: Yes.
Bill Whitaker: Did this have to play out the way it did?
Betty Shelby: No.
Bill Whitaker: What would’ve changed things?
Betty Shelby: If he would’ve complied. If he would have communicated with me, if he would’ve just done as I asked him to do we would not be here. You and I would never have met and no one would ever know my name.
Both officers fired their weapons—Shelby a single round from her service pistol and Turnbough his Taser. Turnbough explicitly states that he is responding to the same perceived threat as did Shelby.
It is impossible to tell from the dash camera video, or from video captured by a police helicopter overhead, precisely what movements Crutcher was making. That, however, is just another way of saying that the only available evidence is that undeniably non-compliant Crutcher was reaching into the vehicle, as the officers claim.
About 10 seconds after the shot was fired Crutcher collapsed to the ground and Shelby radioed that shots had been fired. Crutcher’s single gun-shot wound would prove fatal.
A police investigation of the shooting was promptly initiated, but even before that investigation was completed the local prosecutor had charged Shelby with manslaughter. Why? We can only speculate. Shortly prior to this shooting in Tulsa OK, however, there had been another shooting of a black man by police
officers in Charlotte NC, and that shooting had resulted in riots and property damage in Charlotte. It seems likely that the OK prosecutor moved as swiftly as he did in the hope that by doing so he could avoid similar riots in Tulsa. In the event, there were no riots in Tulsa.
Authorities in Baltimore applied a similar rationale in charging six police officers in Baltimore over the in-custody death of Freddie Gray. Three of those officers would be acquitted in bench trials, and charges against the other three were ultimately dropped when the prospect of convictions seemed non-existent.
Burden on Prosecution to Disprove Self-Defense Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
Officer Shelby will naturally raise a legal defense of self-defense in her upcoming trial on the manslaughter charge. Under Oklahoma law it will be the prosecution will bear the burden to disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt, or the jury will be instructed to acquit Shelby of the manslaughter charge.
This would seem an impossible burden for the prosecution to carry. Literally all of the available evidence in the case is consistent with Shelby’s narrative of self-defense. None of the available evidence of self-defense is inconsistent with self-defense.
While it would be nice to have useful video footage of the moment of the shooting, the simple reality is that very few shooting cases that go to trial have the benefit of any video footage at all. In those cases, as in this one, the evidence is in the form of witness statements, and in this case the only witnesses with personal knowledge of the moment of the shooting—Officer Turnbough and Officer Shelby herself–are giving narratives consistent with self-defense.
Absent even a hint of evidence to counter that narrative of self-defense, it hardly seems possible that the prosecution could hope to disprove Shelby’s self-defense claim beyond a reasonable doubt.
Frankly, the whole matter strikes me as legally very straightforward, with an acquittal all but a certainty if a reasonable jury is empaneled.
Of course, all of the jurors know they will eventually be returning to their communities after Shelby’s trial, and an acquittal in Oklahoma can only mean that each and every one of the jurors voted for a verdict of not guilty.
Whether that might influence their deliberations is impossible to know, but it certainly does not seem beyond the realm of possibility. (It was precisely because of this concern that the acquittals of the Baltimore officers were the result of bench, rather than jury, trials.)
“Tragic Narrative of Police Shooting Unarmed Black Men”
Perhaps the most notable portion of the 60 minutes interview to me, however, was the portion with Tiffany, the twin sister of Terence Crutcher.
She, of course, has no personal knowledge of the events in question, and knows no more than anybody else of actually transpired when her brother encountered Officer Shelby, yet she is utterly convinced that her brother’s shooting was unlawful.
Indeed, she goes further, and places her brother among a list of other purportedly unarmed black men shot by the police. More specifically:
Whittaker [narrating]: “Terence Crutcher’s twin sister, Tiffany, says her brother’s death is a tragic narrative of police shooting unarmed black men.
Tiffany: “I saw Trayvon Martin, I saw Mike Brown, I saw Philando Castille, I saw Tamir Rice. But never in a thousand years would my family, would we have thought, that we would be on their side of it.”
Setting aside the question of whether it was reasonably foreseeable that a convicted drug dealer actively using PCP might be at a somewhat higher risk of being shot by the police than might otherwise be the case, the list she presents in supporting this “tragic narrative of police s hooting unarmed black men” is remarkable.
Trayvon Martin was not shot by the police. He was shot by George Zimmerman, who has never been a police officer.
Mike Brown was indeed an unarmed black man shot by a police officer, but only after he viciously attacked that officer, got shot trying to take that officer’s gun from him, and then charged the officer when held at gunpoint. It is notable that Mike Brown was much larger than the officer he attacked, and clearly unhesitant in attacking and attempting to disarm a police officer pointing a gun at him.
Philando Castille was shot by a police officer, and that shooting might yet turn out to have been unlawful. But Castille was not an “unarmed black man,” he was in fact armed with a gun.
Finally, we have Tamir Rice. Rice was shot by a police officer, but Rice was not “unarmed” for any useful values of the term “unarmed.” Police were responding to 911 calls about Rice pointing an apparently real handgun at people in a public park. When they arrived on scene, the 200-pound Rice immediately reached for that apparently real handgun in his waistband, and got himself shot as a result. It would later be found that Rice’s gun was in fact not an actual firearm.
The fact that Rice’s gun later turned out to not be an actual firearm does not make his shooting unlawful. The police, and all of us, are entitled to act in self-defense on reasonable appearances—if it reasonably looks like a gun, we can defend ourselves as if it were a gun.
Andrew F. Branca is an attorney and the author of The Law of Self Defense, 3rd Edition, and a host on The Outdoor Channel’s TV show, The Best Defense.
[Featured photo is a screen capture of 60 minutes video, as is the photo of Tiffany Crutcher. The dash cam image of the Terence Crutcher shooting scene and the photo of Tamir Rice’s gun are both drawn from publicly available evidence in the respective cases.]
[4/9/17: This post has been updated to remove a mistaken reference to the race of the police officer who fired the fatal shots in the mentioned Charlotte NC shooting of a black suspect. –AFB]
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My 6’4″ self was nearly shot (according to the detective) one night in my apartment by a black detective who came to serve a warrant on a traffic ticket while I was in law school, and was saying “Yes, sir” and “No, sir” while in my bathrobe.
Cops are scared.
Know that, and act accordingly.
Rags remember when wearing the .44 in the shoulder holster the proper accessory is the pink fluffy robe with the matching bunnie slippers, lol.
Please post the photo.
You’ll have to attend my wake!
Andrew, your factual review of the list of unarmed black men murdered by the police violates the prog rule to “never let the facts get in the way of a good narrative.”
Since when do the mobs excited by Black Lives Matter thugs care about (or know) the actual facts??
To a liberal, a gratuitous assertion based on a narrative trumps an argument based on facts and evidence and logic. They actually do not see the difference or they have no integrity — I do not know which. Or, is it both?
And the cops pay. And so do the law abiding citizens of all races.
Back in September 2017
back to the future ??
maybe its 2016 🙂
Heh, that one’s on the Professor, who added the intro text. But I fixed it.
Thanks for the heads up.
Two recent events in eastern OK …
1. Broken Arrow OK – Three persons dressed in black, with hoods and gloves, break into house during mid-day. Homeowner’s son wakes up, hears the noise, grabs gun, words are exchanged, son fires AR-15 at people, retreats and calls 911.
Later we find… the people who broke in were in their teens, one white, one black and one maybe Indian since last name is Redfearn. Get-away driver is Hispanic. Intruders had a knife and brass knuckles. There had been break-ins in the area. The son was working and going to school, so sleeping during the day may have been normal for him.
Grandfather of one of the robbers now states that using a AR-15 is not a fair fight since the boys just had a knife and brass knuckles. But, how was he to know what they had on them and three against one is bad odds for any type of fight.
Query “Broken Arrow Home Invasion” to get the latest on the story. The young man will not be charged since he was defending himself.
2. Tecumseh, OK Police Officer Terney – he was killed while on duty. He stopped a car for a broken tag light. The dash cam video/audio shows that he as very polite, doing his job. The report on the passenger came back with a warrant. He started running before any body search could be done. Terney used his stun gun which did not work on the guy. The man turned and opened fire and hit the police officer who was able to return fire.
Terney was a rookie officer (white) but he was also part of the volunteer fire department, was training a K-9 dog and by all accounts he was a very nice guy. I saw a news report where a black women was praising him, saying how nice he was, how polite and by the way, he was even polite when he arrested her last week.
So – here’s a male cop using a taser on a man who was about the same size and was not apparently high on anything and the taset didn’t work. So how could a small woman realistically fight off a larger man who appears to be high on something with just a taser? Terney is dead, Shelby is not.
The only story that’s getting any amount of national press is the home invasion because of the AR-15 aspect. The police officer – it’s a local story.
The AR-15 story is getting national coverage because of the AR-15, because the “shooter” is white, and because the families of the dead
goblinssuspects are claiming victim status. The media is trying as hard as it can to make it a racial issue, but is failing because it ISN’T a racial issue.
Also, the cynical side of me sees this…
… and thinks, [sarcasm] “Diversity is our strength! See what wonderful things happen when we all work together?” [/sarcasm]
But you won’t hear the MSM report that part. 🙂
I did a post on Broken Arrow over at National Review.
I would imagine that the jury pool in Tulsa will be aware of these events, especially if it is mentioned that the police officer did use a stun gun, but the suspect still managed to fire a gun.
You mentioned that it was dark during the Crutchfield stop. I know the cam video looks like there is enough light, but it was already 15 minutes past sunset and within 10 minutes of the end of twilight. And it looks like a rural road, with limited street lighting. It would have been hard to see what was in the car. I don’t know if the officers are walking westward (facing in to the fading light and some car lights), but that would also impact ability to clearly see if there was some weapon.
Yes – there is a website that tracks sunrise/sunset times – https://sunrise-sunset.org/us/tulsa-ok/2016/9 .
Oops -“Crutcher” not Crutchfield. I was looking at another response and saw the wrong name.
Grandfather of one of the robbers now states that using a AR-15 is not a fair fight since the boys just had a knife and brass knuckles. But, how was he to know what they had on them and three against one is bad odds for any type of fight.
What if he had known? Since when are attacking thugs entitled to a “fair fight”? The law says that when you attack someone you take your victim as you find him, whether he has an eggshell skull or a Bushmaster.
Grandpa can die already with his descendant…yeah I said it. Fairness went out the window when that idiot and his idiot friends broke in to someone else’s house, disrespected their property, and took a giant crap on decency.
If you find yourself in a fair fight then your tactics suck!
Gene Hackman: “You just shot an unarmed man!!!”
Clint Eastwood: “Well, he shoulda armed hisself, then.”
Cool story, bro, but it doesn’t matter because black.
My comment doesn’t belong here. Sorry!
I still don’t see a slam-dunk here at all. I see someone who should never have been trusted with dangerous weapons, and one who might also very well be guilty as charged.
I, Mr. Hypothetical Juror, might want to see something at least resembling a self-defense scenario before considering acquittal. Was the deceased approaching the officer in a “threatening manner” when shot? Was he approaching in any manner at all? Was a weapon visible? Were his hands concealed in such a way that a “Reasonable Man” might think that perhaps the deceased was carrying a weapon? Was the deceased making vocal threats promising physical mayhem?
Unfortunately, I see nothing like any of that here. Suspicion—even very well-founded suspicion—that a self-defense scenario might happen in the near future is not itself a self-defense scenario.
And this has nothing at all to do with the deceased’s bizarre behavior. Unless that bizarre behavior included a reasonable threat of imminent death or serious bodily harm, it’s not something which justifies homicide.
My immediate assumption after hearing about this case was that the DA would charge homicide because two weapons were both on-site and deployed, ready for use—one lethal, one not. Therefore, there is no reasonable way to claim that shooting the suspect to death was the only available option, even if this is considered a genuine self-defense situation. If he was tased and that failed to immobilize him, then go ahead, fill him full of lead. But that’s not what happened, and that’s why I, Mr Hypothetical Juror, might not be inclined to join a stampede to acquit.
Later, as usual, the smoke screens were deployed; on one side, Epidemic of White Police Shooting Unarmed Blacks!!!; on the other, PCP!!! Neither of which have anything to do with the question—did the deceased’s actions constitute an immediate deadly threat to anybody? Not suspicion, not general weirdness, but a genuine and imminent threat of death or great bodily harm. The hypothetical Reasonable Man wants to know.
Surely the self-defense scenario is obvious: suspect reaches into car, grabs a weapon, and comes up firing. The burden is on the prosecution to prove that this was not a reasonable fear, and I don’t see how they could do that.
“If he was tased and that failed to immobilize him, then go ahead, fill him full of lead. But that’s not what happened, and that’s why I, Mr Hypothetical Juror, might not be inclined to join a stampede to acquit.”
Well, hopefull, you won’t BE on the jury, because you clearly don’t understand use-of-force law, at all.
The police are not REQUIRED to attempt a Taser before they can resort to a gun.
They are permitted, as we all are permitted, to use the degree of defensive force necessary to neutralize the reasonably perceived threat.
A 290 lb Terence Crutcher retrieving almost anything from that car, at the distance he was from Shelby, would constitute an imminent threat of death or grave bodily harm.
Further, all of this is not happening in a vacuum–it’s happening as a culmination of Crutcher’s continued refusal to comply with lawful orders, of multiple officers, and in the context of his apparent PCP intoxication (later confirmed by lab test).
Tom, be thankful you are not in law enforcement.
“I see someone who should never have been trusted with dangerous weapons”
Yea, there is zero evidence of this.
I think Andrew sums it up pretty good above.
One shot, one kill? Please, let her be the cop on standby when Hans Grubner appears out of nowhere to finish you off.
That degree of prejudgment taints the rest of your argument, and should exclude you from that jury.
Curious “Circuit Court Event Form” in the Curtis Reeves case dated 30 Mar where the top of the form looks like a telephone status conf but hand printed on the bottom of the form is a note stating:
“Administrative Order as to writ of prohibition for transcript of Stand Your Ground mtn to be heard in front of Chief Judge Roldolino. Def to prep substantive mtn + provide to SAO by 4/20/2017 close of business day (mtn to stay) to be heard on 4/27/2017 at 1 pm”
If next hearing 27th, is in Clearwater I will sit in.
Would one of you kind Solicitors please put that in normal person english?
Gremlin1974: It means Something is up. Note the curtisreevesTrial.com website is sometimes slow at picking up a doc. I looked up the case on the Pasco clerk of court site and there is another motion(8pg) dated 29March but not out of the redac pipe. Title: “Motion: REQUESTING ORDER FINDING ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER 2011-059S(I)(4) PA/PI-CIR DOES NOT APPLY TO PARTIES SEEKING A WRIT FROM A DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL”
Thus looking at the timeline there was a telecon with the judge on 30 March and now a court hearing with the chief Judge will happen 27 Apr. My guess is the SYG hearing order of 10 March does not have a clear statutory appeal process and thus they need to go up the chain for relief. I expect the motion to be posted today or tomorrow and then we will know what Defense is asking for. I presume it is related to the flawed (ref Andrew’s analysis) March 10th order.
So this is basically the “appeals” process regarding the Self Defense Immunity Hearing.
The motion has been released http://curtisreevestrial.com/files/1049.pdf
and the def is asking to avoid paying $2700 for an additional copy of the SYG transcript.
NOTE the Def is putting together an appeal of the March 10th SYG order. Curious if this will affect the trial date. TBD
They ought to appeal. That ruling was legal nonsense.
http://curtisreevestrial.com/files/1042.pdf should read http://curtisreevestrial.com/files/1048.pdf
I believe it is possible for reasonable people to disagree and this is one of those rare cases when at this moment in time, I disagree with Mr. Branca, a person who I hold in high esteem.
It seems to me that there are contradictory issues going on here. Shelby says that Crutcher’s non-compliance made her suspect that he was on something – specifically PCP. Knowing that, it is hard for me to accept that a person who knows another human being is incapacitated or not performing at peak levels should expect that individual to act in a reasonable manner. Shelby knew Crutchfield could not comply with her orders due to the drug, yet his non-compliance is part of the foundation of her shooting him.
In his previous article on this incident cited above, Mr. Branca cites a National Center for Biotechnology Information article describing the effects of PCP in high doses as being:
Sedation and loss of inhibition tend to occur with ingestions of 1 to 5 mg, with the CNS findings of slurred speech, violent behavior and blank staring, horizontal, vertical, or rotatory nystagmus, ataxia, hyperthermia, and seizures at these doses.
Crutchfield had not displayed any violent behavior which in some ways denigrates the claim he was a direct threat at the time he was shot.
Furthermore, “ataxia” is a loss of coordination and muscle control. If Shelby wants to claim that Crutchfield could have been violent, she also has to accept the fact that most likely he could not have had the ability to fire any weapon with any accuracy – especially at greater distances. (More on that in a moment.)
While Shelby says she recognized the effects of PCP or at the very least Crutchfield being “on something,” she continued to act and proceed in the manner suggesting that she discounted her own perceptions.
Secondly, while one can argue that Crutchfield not obeying Shelby caused the incident, it is Shelby who continues to follow Crutchfield and close the distance between them. It is Shelby who physically puts herself in, by her inconsistent thought process, in what she perceived to be a dangerous situation. Shelby said she had her hand on her gun and at the ready as she continued to close the distance. If she thought there was a threat, while she does not have to disengage, she doesn’t have the right to re-engage as Crutchfield walked away. (After all, where was this guy going to go? He never opens his car door and had, according to Shelby, “wandering aimlessly.”)
Milhouse wonders what a “reasonable person” would do and that is also the cornerstone of the self defense claim – what is “reasonable.” The problem is that Shelby did not act in a manner which shows a “reasonable threat.” It was she who closed the distance between herself and Crutchfield. It was she who did not take cover behind her vehicle and radio for the next units to block the road in front of Crutchfield. In my opinion, those would have been reasonable actions or actions in preparation to a threat. It was she who demanded that Crutchfield respond in a manner which she herself had diagnosed as him being unable to comply. I believe that given the information, a good case can be made that Shelby herself initiated, or at least contributed greatly to what she later perceived as a dangerous threat. She had lots of time to move back (or not follow), out of harm’s way but did not.
Finally, something that not many people have talked about is the helicopter pilots. While circling, both pilots say “looks like someone is going to get tasered.” Even they did not expect or believe there was a threat that could not be handled with less than lethal force.
The pilots, like us, are viewing this from a distance and did not see the whole thing, but it is clear that they did not expect that a “reasonable” response would be shooting an unarmed man who had not shown any aggression to that point (or ever, for that matter.)
I suspect that this is going to come down to the lawyers. I think a decent case can be made that Shelby’s actions were reckless and without regard to any threat. At the same time, a case can be made that she saw a threat. Whichever lawyer can convince the jury of what is “reasonable” or “not reasonable” will win.
You have obviously never encountered a person on PCP in an adversarial situation.
At twice her size, the decedent was a threat even without the PCP. He would only be unarmed until he made physical contact with her and took command of her weapon.
Pro tip: stick to your carving, leave the heavy lifting to those who can handle it.
“Finally, something that not many people have talked about is the helicopter pilots. While circling, both pilots say “looks like someone is going to get tasered.” Even they did not expect or believe there was a threat that could not be handled with less than lethal force.”
Since the chopper pilots weren’t anywhere near close enough to see any signs of influence less than the suspect falling in the road, their opinion is as uninformed as yours is.
Also if I remember correctly I read somewhere that one of the chopper pilots is her husband, so he can’t be called to testify.
Your arguments could easily be picked apart by many of the able minds who frequent this site, lawyers and non-lawyers, but the upshot would be this — you are full of zhl+3.
I am going to reply to those who replied to me. In some cases, I will do what they could not – be respectful.
amatuerwrangler You don’t know my life experiences. Thank you for the comment.
SDN If you want to attack the helicopter pilots opinion, that’s fine. However, there is no doubt that they thought that lethal force was not going to be used. It seems to me that dismiss the pilots, you have to say they were “not reasonable.” That’s tough argument to make, in my opinion.
Mannie Actually violating training and established procedures removes qualified immunity from the officers. It is a matter of criminality. As for the distance, I am going back to things Shelby said. She initially said she came upon Crutchfield who was “wandering aimlessly” and “incoherent.” Suddenly that “aimlessly” turned into a plan to get a weapon from the vehicle? That doesn’t seem reasonable to me at that moment in time. It is just as likely that Crutchfield was going to wander away from the vehicle. As to “verbal control,” while I understand and appreciate your point, Shelby said that Crutchfield was “unresponsive.” By her own statement, there was no “verbal control to be had at that point.
As to the other units, with all due respect, if you watch the videos two other units arrive on the scene as the shooting occurs. (There are initially 2 officers and two cars. When the shooting occurs, there are 4 officers and four cars on the scene.) Shelby would have / should have heard their approach and response on the radio she has on her person. In other words, I am arguing facts in evidence.
Marcus In the Brown case, the defendant was acquitted by the Court after it was shown that he was not the aggressor, and had in fact retreated away from the confrontation of his attacker. Shelby did not retreat or stay in place even after Crutchfield was moving away from her. She continued to advance and arguably was the aggressor in this case.
All The bottom line is that Shelby shot an unarmed man. Whether that shooting was justifiable or reasonable is not as clear to me as it may be to others. I believe there are unanswered questions that don’t explain Shelby’s actions that day at this point in time and looking back. Perhaps those questions can be resolved at some point, but to me, those questions and her explanation remains open and inconsistent. I understand there is a tendency to give officers the benefit of the doubt, but to always do so and always say officers are correct in their actions belies the fallibility of human beings.
You just proved my point.
Like the others I have no idea of your life experience but that doesn’t matter in any case; what you are saying flies in the face of reality.
First, unlike civilians who have a duty to retreat in most cases if it is possible to do so safely, police are required to engage suspects, closing to distances where they can at least in theory control the situation. That is SOP for police everywhere. You can’t physically arrest someone from a distance.
Second, Crutcher was initially walking around apparently aimlessly, but at the time of the shooting he had suddenly plunged his arm into his car through the open window. He might have been going for a bottle of Mylanta but he instead could have been grabbing for the (hypothetical example) sawed-off shotgun laying on the front seat. Either one is possible but if the officer makes the wrong split-second decision on how to respond someone will have to notify his/her next of kin. Based on all the available information a reasonable person, knowing what the officer knew at the time would have reacted in the same way. That by the way, is a fairly universal standard for determining whether or not a shooting is justified.
Last, PCP (Angel Dust) has wildly different effects on people. While some might be “out of it” and relatively harmless, others have gone from lethargic to homicidal rage instantly; this is not hypothetical as police in several places have experienced just such an instantaneous behavior change. It is also worth noting that in a number of officer shootings involving suspects on PCP the suspects kept coming with homicidal intent after soaking up literally dozens of rounds! PCP, among other things, dulls the senses to the point that the brain can’t tell the body has been critically wounded, so the body keeps on going purposefully until it has bled out and the suspect literally drops dead.
Based on my experiences and all the public accounts of this shooting I would not hesitate to call it justified. Even if there was no weapon the Disparity of Force issue would still justify the officers’ actions.
The first thing you have to realize is that any situation can go from non-life threatening to life threatening in less than a second.
Example: Unarmed person grabs a nearby pipe. Or unarmed person reaches to a an area that could contain a concealed weapon.
The second thing is that the moment the man reached into his car window where the officers could not see his hand it is no different than the example’s above. He could have been reaching for a weapon and no one, not even police are required to actually be harmed before defending themselves. If you had to wait for a weapon to acutally be displayed or brandished then well you would most likely be the one that got shot.
The fact that he was on PCP just explains his non-compliance. The man was fine until he made a move that could have been going for a weapon. Sure he appeared to be unarmed, but so do I and I carry a gun regularly, along with Pepper Spray and a fighting knife. Yet I “appear unarmed”.
Now if they had shot him before his arm crossed the threshold of that window, then we would have a problem, but he could have been reaching for a gun that was in the driver’s seat and that is why he was shot.
I might not be a reasonable juror, but I’m not sure the DA should be trusted with a law license.
A person can initiate violence very quickly, and within about 20 feet can incapacitate an opponent armed with a firearm. This suggests that both officers’ tactics were deficient, and they should not have approached within 30-40 feet of the decedent. That is a training issue, not one of criminality. Arguing against opening the range, is the fact that it is more difficult for the average officer to achieve hits at longer range. This is another training issue. Finally, opening the range decreases the officer’s ability to take verbal control of the situation. This negates my first supposition that they were too close. You can’t arrest someone from a distance.
You are arguing facts not in evidence. We have no idea whether any other units were readily available. The longer an incident goes on, the greater the likelihood of it going sour. There appears to be a strong trend of the “Never Give In” ethic of the prison being exhibited in some communities. This is what leads to violent yet futile incidents of resisting arrest. Even when there is no death, cops get badly injured during those incidents. Given the disparity in size between Officer Shelby and Crutchfield, that would have been a dangerous situation, indeed. That disparity is not erased by the presence of a second, larger officer. Fighters on PCP are often described as exhibiting “superhuman strength.”
“Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife” Brown v. United States, 256 U.S. 335 (1921), opinion written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. Thread commentators as to the justifiability of the Officer’s use of deadly force may well want to give the Opinion a read.
one unarmed guy high on PCP
four cops (three of them men) with tasers, collapsible batons, pepper spray and superior numbers
the one unarmed guy not attacking or charging ends up dead from single gunshot wound
(how much of a threat could he be for one shot to be fired)
were the tasers deployed?
it’s clear they didn’t wrestle him down
what threat was he?(not listening and doing nothing with nothing doesn’t count)
what happened to beanbag rounds from shotguns?(maybe they don’t use them)
something smells fishy
Well we have someone else that has no clue about use of force law, and apparently hasn’t even watched the video of the altercation.
While all of your point are correct in a vacuum without factoring in time, when those police actually arrived on scene, distances between those officers and the altercation, and well pretty much everything except screeching “unarmed man shot by police”, which is the basic jist of your argument.
Also, no where in use of force law does it say that the person in question has to be armed, or that being unarmed means you can’t be a deadly threat.