"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Black Lives In the Line of Fire

Two more senseless killings of Black people by the police
Two more senseless killings of Black people by the police

Terence Crutcher was killed with no justification by a Tulsa, Oklahoma police officer. Keith Lamont Scott was shot in Charlotte, North Carolina while the police were there to serve a warrant to someone else. We’re forced to ask the same question over and over: how many Black people have to die before we reassess policing in America?

Too many.

Terence Crutcher. Keith Lamont Scott. Korryn Gaines. Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. The truth is so many tragic killings at the hands of police are preventable. We’re just not doing enough to prevent them.

There’s a bill in Congress right now, the Preventing Tragedies Between Police and Communities Act of 2016, that aims to change policing practices to be about safety and police accountability.

If passed, the Preventing Tragedies bill would require officers to use non-lethal and de-escalation tactics and use the lowest level of force possible – the safest means – to deal with an identified threat. The bill also outlines accountability mechanisms to enable states and localities to make sure police officers use these tactics whenever possible.

The police left Terence, a father, to bleed to death on the street. Keith Lamont Scott was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We must transform our broken policing practices. We cannot afford another life lost to injustice and racism. 

Source: ACLU, Sept. 21, 2016

Terence Crutcher was left by the police to bleed and die. It happens a lot.

There are many disturbing moments in the video recordings of Terence Crutcher’s death at the hands of Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby. But officers’ conduct immediately after Shelby shot the 40-year-old stands out as particularly heartbreaking.

Three officers standing shoulder to shoulder retreat from the unarmed and dying man, weapons still leveled in his direction. Thirty seconds after Crutcher falls, the trio has moved off-screen. Officers can be seen walking back and forth to their cars over the following moments.

But for more than two minutes, no one attends to Crutcher’s wound. About 100 seconds after Shelby shot the unarmed man, another officer who arrived after the shooting puts on gloves and appears to check Crutcher’s pockets.

Nearly two-and-a-half minutes after Shelby’s “shots fired” radio call, another officer is heard saying “Hey we need a lane open so EMT can get in.” At about that same time, the gloved officer appears to begin unwrapping and applying bandages or gauze to Crutcher’s body.

The lack of immediate medical attention from officers on the scene attracted particular attention from local activist Marq Lewis, who noted that officer Shelby [the officer who shot Crutcher in the first place] is certified in basic emergency medical services.

“Betty Shelby is a trained EMS Basic,” said Lewis, a lead organizer with police accountability group We The People Oklahoma. “She’s trained. She did not render aid at all. She also has a trauma bag issued in her trunk. They let him lay there two-plus minutes. She did not even render aid at all.”

Such scenes are likely familiar to anyone who’s been paying attention as videos of violent, deadly police encounters with black people became more prevalent and available over the past few years. Officers commonly decline to render first aid, even after removing a wounded citizen’s weapon — or discovering they never had one at all.

Click here to read the full article

Source: Think Progress, Alan Pyke, Sept. 21, 2016

September 22-23 Updates

First-degree manslaughter charges filed against Tulsa police officer who shot and killed Terence Crutcher

Prosecutors in Tulsa, Okla., charged a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man on a city street with first-degree manslaughter Thursday.

Tulsa County Dist. Atty. Steve Kunzweiler filed the charges against officer Betty Shelby, who shot and killed 40-year-old Terence Crutcher on Friday. Dashcam and aerial footage of the shooting and its aftermath showed Crutcher walking away from Shelby with his arms in the air.

The footage does not offer a clear view of when Shelby fired the single shot that killed Crutcher. Her attorney has said Crutcher was not following police commands and that Shelby opened fire when the man began to reach into his SUV window.

But Crutcher's family immediately discounted that claim, saying the father of four posed no threat to the officers. Police said Crutcher did not have gun on him or in his vehicle.

Shelby, who joined the Tulsa Police Department in December 2011, was en route to a domestic violence call when she encountered Crutcher's vehicle abandoned on a city street, straddling the center line. Shelby did not activate her patrol car's dashboard camera, so no footage exists of what first happened between the two before other officers arrived.

The police footage shows Crutcher approaching the driver's side of the SUV, then more officers walk up and Crutcher appears to lower his hands and place them on the vehicle. A man inside a police helicopter overhead says: "That looks like a bad dude, too. Probably on something."

The officers surround Crutcher and he suddenly drops to the ground. A voice heard on police radio says: "Shots fired!" The officers back away and Crutcher is left unattended on the street for about two minutes before an officer puts on medical gloves and begins to attend to him.

Earlier this year, a former volunteer deputy with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office was sentenced to four years in prison after he was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Eric Harris.

Source: The Associated Press, Sept. 22, 2016

Tulsa officer Betty Shelby booked, released on bond

(CNN)Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby was booked at the local county jail early Friday and released shortly after on $50,000 bond.

Shelby has been charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher, 40, after his SUV broke down last week.

The criminal complaint against Shelby said her "fear resulted in her unreasonable actions which led her to shooting" Crutcher. She is accused of "unlawfully and unnecessarily" shooting him after he did not comply with her "lawful orders."

Source: CNN, Sept. 23, 2016

Tulsa Officer Betty Shelby opened fire in 'heat of passion'

Cartoon by Mike Luckovich, September 2016
Cartoon by Mike Luckovich, September 2016
An Oklahoma police officer has been charged with first-degree manslaughter "in the heat of passion" over the fatal shooting of a black motorist.

Tulsa officer Betty Shelby was booked into the county jail early on Friday and released minutes later on bail.

Prosecutors say she "reacted unreasonably" when she killed 40-year-old Terence Crutcher on 16 September.

The Tulsa County affidavit, filed with the charge against Officer Shelby, accuses her of "escalating the situation from a confrontation with Mr Crutcher".

She is charged with "becoming emotionally involved to the point that she over reacted", according to Thursday's court document.

Oklahoma law defines "heat of passion" in manslaughter cases as a strong emotion "that would naturally affect the ability to reason and render the mind incapable of cool reflection".

If convicted, she faces a minimum of four years in prison.

Officer Shelby posted a $50,000 (£38,000) bond and was released at 01:31 (05:31 GMT) on Friday, minutes after arriving for a booking photo, according to jail records.

The affidavit says she told homicide investigators "she was in fear for her life and thought Mr Crutcher was going to kill her".

"When she began following Mr Crutcher to the vehicle with her duty weapon drawn, she was yelling for him to stop and get on his knees repeatedly," it says.

The affidavit says Mr Crutcher was not responding to Officer Shelby's verbal commands and was walking away from her with his hands held up.

Prosecutors say Officer Shelby either killed the father-of-four impulsively in a fit of anger, or that she wrongly killed him as she sought to detain him.

Police acknowledge that Mr Crutcher did not have a gun on him or in his vehicle.

The affidavit also indicates that Officer Shelby "cleared the driver's side front" of Mr Crutcher's vehicle before she began interacting with him.

This would indicate she had checked whether there was a gun on the driver's side of the vehicle.

Her lawyer has said she opened fire when Mr Crutcher began to reach into his vehicle window.

But the Crutcher family lawyers say enhanced video from a police helicopter shows the vehicle's window was closed.

Source: BBC News, Sept. 23, 2016

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