The police officer charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of a Tulsa man said that she feared for her life after Terence Crutcher ignored multiple commands to stop and drop to his knees. She shot and killed him on September 16, as he approached his car. The officer, Betty Shelby, is a drug-recognition expert and sensed that Mr. Crutcher was on some narcotic, possibly PCP. The drug was found in his car. Whether Crutcher was on the substance was a subject of debate that has been solved with the recent release of the toxicology report last night. Crutcher was indeed under the influence of the drug (via CBS News):
A medical examiner has found that an unarmed black man fatally shot by a white Tulsa police officer had the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his system when he died, reports CBS affiliate KOTV.
A toxicology report released by the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office found Terence Crutcher had 96 nanograms per milliliter of phencyclidine, or PCP, in his bloodstream, according to the Tulsa World. The report said Crutcher had “acute phencyclidine intoxication,” according to KOTV.
Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby has been charged with first-degree manslaughter in Crutcher’s Sept. 16 death.
The police helicopter captured the tragic scene, where Crutcher can be seen returning to his vehicle before getting shot. There’s a reason why police officers don’t allow suspects, or any person they encounter during routine stops, to return to their vehicles. The murder of a deputy sheriff in Georgia, Kyle Dinkheller, is used in trainings across the country to demonstrate why allowing this could turn into a life and death situation.
In 1998, Laurens County Deputy Sheriff pulled over Andrew Brannan for driving almost 100 mph on a county road. Brannan, a Vietnam war veteran, and Dinkheller exited their vehicles for what seemed to be a routine traffic stop. Things escalated quickly with Brannan acting erratically, finally returning to his pickup truck and pulled out a M1 carbine. He murdered Dinkheller, shooting him multiple times. Dinkheller had called for backup, but failed to arrive in time to save his life.
Crutcher wasn’t armed, but officers cannot give the benefit of the doubt; everyone isn’t a Good Samaritan. This is why returning to your vehicle while disobeying police orders could lead to you getting shot.