Police Shootings, Part II: Needless tragedy in Tulsa

A closer look at what police and the suspect should have done in Tulsa, Okla.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a number of controversial police shootings all across the country. In the first part of this series, we tried as much as we could to dissect one of those shootings and talk to a team of former law enforcement officers about what could have saved a 12-year-old’s life in Cleveland.

In this installment, we take a closer look at a deadly shooting in Tulsa. An unarmed man refusing to listen to an officer’s commands was shot and killed by a female officer. Once again, we bring our experts back and reenact, as closely as possible, that day from what we witnessed on video. Our experts share with you what we as civilians, and the cops themselves should have done differently.

In our first Tulsa scenario, two officers respond, and a man is not responding to their orders.

“Sir, you have to stop right there! Do not go to the car!”

“Stop moving, now! Get on the ground! Move away from the car!”

In the actual police video, you can see the suspect, 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, not responding to a Tulsa officer’s commands. His hands are in the air, he’s walking slowly, and no weapon is visible. A female officer is close behind him with another officer just behind her.

But things go from bad to worse as the suspect gets next to his vehicle.

Our law enforcement experts give their assessment of the apparent danger in this scene.

“What bothered you?” we asked.

“Allowing him to get to the car,” said retired officer Cal Dennie, formerly of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

“Some (officer) could have tackled him.”

But no one did, and Crutcher ended up being fatally shot.

“There were too many commands given, and he did not respond. At that point they should’ve taken him down,” said retired FBI special agent Oscar Westerfield.

Indeed, the problem with allowing a suspect to get to a vehicle is the possibility of him or her having access to a weapon.

In our second reenactment, we take down the suspect before he gets to the vehicle.

“Sir! You have to stop!”

“Put your hands up on the car!”

Using this approach, the issue of wondering what the suspect is about to is removed, and he is apprehended without incident.

The Tulsa shooting ended with an unarmed suspect dead. One of the officers on the scene has been charged with manslaughter and is awaiting trial.

Sadly, a different approach employed by the officers could have saved Crutcher’s life and kept the officer from facing murder charges.

In the next installment, we’ll dig deeper into a shooting in Minnesota where a woman recorded the aftermath live on Facebook.

(© 2016 WTSP)


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