Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man who was shot and killed by a white police officer in Oklahoma last week, was not reaching into his car when the fatal shot was fired, a lawyer for his family said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters outside the Tulsa County Courthouse on Tuesday afternoon, Benjamin Crump, who is representing the dead man’s family, said that a streak of Crutcher’s blood on the glass, visible in a still image taken from the helicopter video, proved that the car window was closed when he was shot.
Crump accused a police department spokesperson, Officer Jeanne Mackenzie, of spreading “misinformation that he caused his own death” when she told reporters on Friday night that Crutcher had prompted the shooting by refusing to raise his hands and reaching into his vehicle.
Finding that initial police account hard to believe, Crutcher’s family had demanded the release of unedited police footage of the incident. The department complied with that request on Monday.
David Riggs, a former state attorney general who chairs the Oklahoma Access to Justice Commission, also addressed a report that the police had found the hallucinogenic drug phencyclidine, or PCP, inside Crutcher’s car after the shooting. Riggs said that the shooting was not justified even if Crutcher was intoxicated. “Not everybody who’s under the influence of something is a threat to other people,” Riggs said.
Crump also noted, as many others did on social networks, that the killing of Crutcher stood in stark contrast to the capture of Ahmad Khan Rahami, the suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings, after a shoot-out with police officers there.
Video of Crutcher’s killing triggered outrage and despair from those viewing it online, and demands from protesters for the arrest of Officer Betty Shelby, who fired the fatal shot and has been placed on paid leave.
There was particular anger at a comment made by the pilot of the police helicopter moments before Crutcher was shot by Officer Shelby. The pilot was recorded saying that the 40-year-old, who was walking slowly back to his car with his hands up at that moment, looked like “a bad dude” who “could be on something.”
Crutcher’s sister Tiffany angrily rejected that assessment of her brother based solely on his appearance when the video was made public on Monday.
Many of those who watched the footage were also disturbed by the fact that it showed that the officers did not immediately offer medical assistance to Crutcher as he lay bleeding to death on the pavement.