Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Okla. and Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, N.C. are the latest men added to list of Black men who have been killed by police, sending shockwaves across the nation and furthering the rift between police and the community.
Tulsa and Charlotte have become epicenters this week for rallies, protests and uprising as Black American reaches its boiling point.
Sept. 16, just one month after his 40th birthday, Crutcher’s car was stalled in North Tulsa, the city’s predominantly African-American community. Reports indicate someone called 911 reporting a stalled vehicle in the middle of the street blocking traffic.
White female police officer Betty Shelby, who was en route to an unrelated crime scene, saw Crutcher. According to her attorney, Shelby asked Crutcher if the car belonged to him and got no response. She then asked Crutcher to take his hands out of his pockets.
The officer alleges she continued to question Crutcher about the car but got no response, and he put his hands back into his pockets. Shelby called for backup, claiming she thought that Crutcher was under the influence.
As taught by his father, when officers asked him to put his hands up he did. Another officer on the scene, Tyler Turnbough, tasered him and Shelby opened fire. Crutcher was shot and died in the hospital. Officers did not attempt to revive or render aid to Crutcher at the scene for more than two minutes.
Police officials said that officers used force on Crutcher because he looked as if he were reaching for something in his car when officers ordered him to put his hands up. No weapon was found at the scene.
Two videos of the incident have been made public. One is from the dashboard camera of a police cruiser and the other is from a police helicopter. Officers can be heard in the helicopter saying, “That looks like a bad dude, too, maybe on something” referring to Crutcher. Officers in the Tulsa Police Department do not wear body cameras.
The United States Department of Justice announced it has opened a civil rights probe into the shooting.
“They have once again highlighted—in the most vivid and painful terms—the real divisions that still persist in this nation between law enforcement and communities of color,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said.
Family members of Crutcher recall him as a man who was on the right path. He was also involved in his church, where his father is pastor, and sang in the choir. He had recently enrolled at Tulsa Community College to study music and perfect his craft. He was the father of four children.
Crutcher’s family and their attorneys, Benjamin Crump and Damario Solomon-Simmon, were in New York Wednesday speaking to the media. Calling on the Rev. Al Sharpton for assistance, the family spoke at a news conference at the National Action Network headquarters in Harlem.
“My son has his hands raised up, just what I taught him to do,” said Crutcher’s father, Joey. “He was walking to the car and they shot him down like a dog. I can’t look at the video anymore.”
Crutcher’s twin sister Tiffany said the family has received support from across the world and is on a path to justice. She said city officials in Tulsa said they would not vilify her brother. However, reports surfaced that officers claimed there was PCP in Crutcher’s vehicle when he was shot.
“We are heartbroken,” she said. “We are experiencing a whirlwind of emotions right now. Regardless of what was found, we know that there was no gun in the car. We know he was unarmed. We know he was moving slow. We know he did not commit a crime like the New York bomber did who is still alive. We know all of those things and my brother is dead.”
Sharpton plans on holding rally in Harlem for Crutcher Saturday at NAN headquarters. His team is going to Tulsa Tuesday where another rally will be held.
“The burden that [Crutcher’s family has to] bear is a burden that too many families have had to bear,” he said. “Clearly this is an outrage. Clearly it is one of many. The difference on this one is that this is not going to be easily flipped on the victim.”
Meanwhile in Charlotte, tempers flared after the fatal police shooting of 43-year-old Scott Tuesday. Reports indicate the incident occurred in the parking lot of an apartment complex while Scott was waiting for his son to come home from school. Scott was exiting his vehicle with a gun, according to police, who told him to drop his weapon
Officer Brently Vinson, who is Black, shot Scott, who was later taken to a hospital where he died.
Scott’s family claims that he was reading a book in the car. His daughter, Lyric, recorded the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live. She learned from a news report that her father died in the hospital.
“They shot my daddy ’cause he’s Black,” she said on the 31-minute video. “He was sitting in his car reading a [expletive] book. So they shot him. That’s what happened. My daddy’s dead! My daddy’s dead!”
“When will our lives truly matter?” asked Corine Mack, president of the Charlotte’s NAACP. “A Black father is dead. There are children tonight who will never see their father again. We need to change policies. We need to change procedure. We need to hold police accountable. It’s a modern-day lynching.”
An uprising erupted in Charlotte Tuesday night. Hundreds of people gathered on Interstate 85 chanting “Black lives matter.” Seven people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries and a reported 16 officers were also hurt.