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Uproar over police shootings of black men in Tulsa, Charlotte
September 27, 2016
The shooting deaths of two black men at the hands of the police has caused outrage and spurred on protests across the country. Terence Crutcher, 40, was the first to die. On Sept. 16 Officer Betty Shelby used lethal force on Crutcher.
Shelby and another officer, Tyler Turnbough, had attempted to stop Crutcher after responding to a call about his abandoned vehicle blocking traffic in Tulsa, Okla. Crutcher’s family said they believe his vehicle stalled as he was coming home from classes at Tulsa Community College.
“They asked him to show his hands,” Tulsa Police spokesperson Jeanne Mackenzie told KOTV according to Heavy. “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 official account of the incident that led to Crutcher’s death seems to conflict with police video footage.
Dashcam footage from Shelby and Turnbough’s vehicle shows Crutcher with his hands in the air as he walks to his vehicle, according to Heavy. Shelby, who has her weapon drawn, follows behind him as does Turnbough. Shortly afterwards, Shelby reports that shots have been fired as Crutcher falls on the ground.
He was on the ground for more than two minutes before someone tried to tend to his wounds, according to the Lost Angeles Times. He died of his injuries at the hospital later that day. A police helicopter that was in the area also captured aerial video of the incident. Officers overheard in the helicopter footage have been criticized for prejudging Crutcher and calling him a “bad dude” who looks like he “might be on something” according to ABC News.The first protests over Crutcher’s death occurred on Monday outside of the Tulsa County Courthouse. After reviewing the footage, Crutcher’s family called for Shelby to be officially charged with his death, ABC News reported.
The Tulsa County district attorney Stephen Kunzweiler complied on Thursday, Sept. 22, formally issuing a warrant for Shelby’s arrest and charging her with manslaughter, according to the Business Insider.Days after Crutcher’s death on Sept. 20, Keith Lamont Scott, 43, was gunned down by police officers in Charlotte, N.C. Scott was shot by an undercover police officer at an apartment complex who was attempting to serve an arrest warrant on another man according to Heavy. Police said in their official account that Scott’s shooting was justified because he was armed and he “posed an imminent deadly threat.”
“Officers observed a subject inside a vehicle in the apartment complex,” police said in a press release according to Heavy. “The subject exited the vehicle armed with a firearm. Officers observed the subject get back into the vehicle at which time they began to approach the subject.”
“The subject got back out of the vehicle armed with a firearm and posed an imminent deadly threat to officers who subsequently fired their weapon striking the subject,” police said.
Police said Scott refused to drop the gun he was holding. A weapon was retrieved from the crime scene near Scott according to Heavy.
Again, the official police account differs from other accounts. Scott’s family said he was reading a book when officer Brentley Vinson shot him, according to CNN.
“The officers gave loud, clear verbal commands that were also heard by many of the witnesses,” Charlotte Police Chief Kerr Putney said. “They were instructing the subject, once he got out of the vehicle, to drop the weapon. Despite the verbal commands, Mr. Scott exited the vehicle as the officers continued to yell at him to drop it. He stepped out, posing a threat to the officers, and Officer Brentley Vinson subsequently fired his weapon, striking the subject.”
Unlike the officers in Crutcher’s shooting, officers began emergency CPR on Scott immediately, according to Heavy. Police have refused to release dashcam footage of Scott’s death to the public Reuters reported, but they will let Scott’s family members view it, according to the Associated Press.
Protests over Scott’s death at Marshall Park turned violent in a matter of hours, CNN reported. The protest started at 7 p.m. on Sept. 21 and by 8 p.m. people had begun damaging property and looting. The governor of North Carolina issued a state of emergency in the area due to the riots.