Outrage from the state of Oklahoma began to spread throughout the nation on Monday [September 18], after the Tulsa Police Department released a series of videos that show the final minutes of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher's life, before he was cut down by gunfire while walking away from police with his hands raised in the air.
As the hour approached 8 p.m. on Saturday evening, Crutcher's SUV reportedly broke down in the middle of the road, near 36th Street and Lewis Avenue. Members of Crutcher's family have said that he was on his way home from Tulsa Community College, where he was enrolled as a student in the music appreciation program when the vehicle stalled. The county district attorney's office and the U.S. Department of Justice have launched investigations vowing to get to the bottom of exactly what took place in the moments that followed, but at the present time there are the reports filed by officers present on the scene, and aerial footage to go along with a dash cam recording of the incident.
According to a statement put out by Tulsa Police spokesperson Jeanne Mackenzie, 'As they approached the vehicle a black male started towards them. They asked him to show his hands. He refused to follow commands given by the officers. They continued to talk to him. He continued not to listen, not follow any commands as they got closer to the vehicle he reached inside the vehicle and at that time there was a Taser deployment and then a short time later there was one shot fired.'
The officer who fired the fatal shot has been identified as 42-year-old Betty Shelby. Video taken from the view of a police helicopter shows Crutcher slowly returning to his vehicle with his hands in the air, as Shelby trails behind with her gun aimed at his back. At least five police cruisers converge behind them, and one officer, identified as Tyler Turnbough, comes out to provide back-up. As Crutcher nears the driver's side door of the SUV, Turnbough lifts and shoots his taser. A third and fourth officer then ran up, with one drawing his weapon and positioning himself parallel to Shelby and Turnbough, as the other remains behind with a radio in hand. Suddenly, Shelby fires, sending Crutcher to the floor, where he lays on his back and bleeds out from the chest.
'His hands were in the air from all views. It was not apparent at any angle from any point that he lunged, came toward, aggressively attacked, or made any sudden movements that would have been considered a threat or life-threatening toward the officer,' friend of the family, Pastor Rodney Goss of the Morning Star Baptist Church said of the video before it got out to the public. Pastor Goss was allowed to join the family as authorities showed them the footage prior to its release. 'After having been shot, a couple minutes it appears, but it seemed like a lifetime, went by before anyone actually checked with him as far as pulse — as far as whatever the case may be.'
Anticipating the possibility of a backlash reminiscent of that which occurred after the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in July, Pastor Goss urged calm from the community. Meanwhile, protesters converged outside of Tulsa County Courthouse on to demand justice. They held signs reading "Am I Next," "This Stops Now," and "#BlackLivesMatter."