Thursday, September 22, 2016

"Hands Up and I'll Shoot!"

     There are so many things that are wrong with the Terence Crutcher shooting in Tulsa on September 16th. And yet, even places like CommonDreams claim the video evidence, from two dramatically different angles, is "inconclusive." The CommonDreams article even elevates the ridiculous precedent of Graham v. Connor and its justification of "objective reasonableness" to a legitimate reason to shoot unarmed black men in the street like something out of a Judge Dredd graphic novel.
     Yet we do not live in a dystopian Judge Dredd universe in which officers are allowed to act as judges, juries and executioners.
     Yet we do, with so little accountability that it's essentially open season on all black males.
     Here are the facts as seen in just the dashcam video or the helicopter video:
     Crutcher's SUV broke down in the middle of the road. We don't know if he called the authorities for assistance (typically, one wouldn't call the police in that situation). We also don't know who, exactly, called the police on Crutcher.
     It's disgusting enough that Crutcher felt the need to put his hands up when the police, for some reason, arrived in full force, but put them up he did.
     He was then tased after he walked back to his vehicle, which is intended to be a non-lethal way of incapacitating an aggressive, unstable or belligerent suspect so s/he is no longer a danger. Yet seconds after he was tased, he was shot by Officer Betty Shelby for no accountable reason. One possible "reason" would be Crutcher's sudden movement in collapsing when he was unaccountably tased.
     Crutcher appeared to have his hands down when he was shot. Yet since we cannot ascertain from either video (especially the chopper version) the exact moment he was fatally shot, he could've lowered his arms when Shelby opened fire on him.
     The officers involved claimed Crutcher was reaching into his vehicle just before he was killed. Yet if that was a concern for the officers, they should have cleared the vehicle first before allowing Crutcher to walk towards it. Apparently, they did not give him verbal commands to that end, almost as if they were setting him up for a public execution. Perhaps he made the mistake of reaching for his registration, such as Philando Castile in Baton Rouge.
     Crutcher had a firearm neither on his person nor in his vehicle, a fact that would've been readily ascertained had they searched his person and vehicle. Keep in mind, he was not a suspect in a robbery, murder, assault or any violent crime.
     An officer can be plainly seen walking back toward the dashcam very unsteadily while being supported by two other officers. At first, I thought after watching the dashcam video and its forced perspective, that he had his hands on Crutcher when another tased him. Yet this is not the case. The helicopter video plainly shows the four officers closest to Crutcher were no less than 18 feet from him. So what accounts for the officer's woozy state? Seeing a man get shot before his eyes? The sight of Crutcher's blood pouring from his torso?
     The Chief of the Tulsa PD, to his credit, did not even try to spin, whitewash or otherwise dispute the facts. He made no attempt to defend Shelby. In fact, the Chief even called the Department of Justice and actually requested their involvement in the form of a civil rights investigation, which is just now beginning.
     We may never know why Betty Shelby felt the need to gun down an obviously unarmed and compliant black man as if he was a rabid dog by the side of the road. We may never know who actually called the police on Mr. Crutcher. We may never know why the Tulsa police decided to render aid to one of their own (who was seemingly uninjured) seconds after the shooting and why they waited nearly three minutes before making the first attempts at first aid on Crutcher.
     Those facts are inconclusive and CommonDreams in their armchair bloviation about Constitutional law never mentions any of these things.
     What we do know is this:
     Yet another compliant, unarmed African American man was shot in public and literally within seconds of the unjustified arrival of law enforcement (as in the case of Tamir Rice). White people, all them being Trump supporters with "deplorable" in their handles, reflexively look for any possible explanation to justify this man's murder.
     Since then, another unarmed black man has been shot and killed by a black officer (Keith Scott was sitting in his car peacefully reading a book as he awaited his son from school), this one in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Because #whitepropertymatters, Gov. Pat McCrory had declared Charlotte a state of emergency and called out the National Guard.
     What police need to learn, and what they never will pending a complete overhaul of police culture, is that if they get to hold public executions in the street, then the public gets to hold funerals in those same streets.


At September 23, 2016 at 12:48 PM, Blogger Comrade Misfit said...

we may indeed know, because Officer Shelby has been charged with manslaughter.

At September 23, 2016 at 1:56 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Yes, she has. 1st Degree Felony Manslaughter, if memory serves me correctly.


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