Shocking dash cam and helicopter footage released by Tulsa, OK, police on Monday afternoon shows officers fatally shooting Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, as he approaches a stalled SUV with his hands in the air.
The graphic footage appears to contradict the original police narrative of Crutcher's death.
Tulsa police chief Chuck Jordan told reporters Monday that officer Tyler Turnbough first deployed a Taser on Crutcher, who was then shot by officer Betty Shelby. At a press conference prior to the release of the videos, he called the footage "disturbing, and difficult to watch." Crutcher was unarmed when he was shot and no gun was found in his car, he confirmed.
According to the initial version of events, reported by outlets including The Associated Press, Crutcher approached two officers Friday evening while they were walking toward his stalled SUV on a road near Route 75, which runs through Tulsa. Officers then ordered Crutcher to put his hands up "multiple times," the Tulsa World reported, and after a period of alleged non-compliance, officers Tasered him before firing.
Yet the two videos released by Tulsa police Monday (one from a police car dash cam, the other from a helicopter) show Crutcher with his hands up essentially the entire time. He does not appear to be resisting in any way. In the helicopter footage, an officer can be heard saying, "That looks like a bad dude." Crutcher is fatally shot soon after.
Shelby can be seen shooting Crutcher within seconds of approaching the SUV. The quality and perspective of the videos make it difficult to determine if Turnbough did indeed first Taser Crutcher before Shelby fired, but an officer can be heard saying over the radio, “I think he may have been Tasered." Both videos end with Crutcher on the ground bleeding. In the second video, from the helicopter, Crutcher is on the ground for three minutes before anyone attempts to render aid. Crutcher died after being taken to the hospital.
Tulsa Police Sgt. Shane Tuell said Monday that he believes the Taser and gun were fired at the same time.
"We just celebrated our 40th birthday a month ago yesterday," Crutcher's twin sister, Tiffany, told the Tulsa World. "He was excited about school. He was excited about just growing and becoming better."
Shelby has been placed on paid leave, Tulsa police said Monday. The department said an investigation of the shooting is underway. U.S. Attorney Danny Williams also said the Department of Justice has opened a separate and independent civil rights investigation into the incident.
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.