Officer Betty Shelby, who is seen on police video firing a single fatal shot at close range at Terrence Crutcher, had recently undergone drug-recognition training and believed the unarmed man was acting erratically and under the influence of angel dust, attorney Scott Wood told the Tulsa World.
Video of the moments leading up to the shooting, however, shows Crutcher walking slowly towards his SUV with his hands high in the air in apparent compliance with the cop’s orders.
“The video shows that he was not belligerent,” attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons, who is representing the Crutcher family, told The Daily News. “The video shows what the video shows. That’s the great thing about video … it has no biases,” he said.
Tulsa Police Sgt. Dave Walker told the Tulsa World that investigators found a vial of PCP in Crutcher’s SUV but did not determine whether he was under the influence of the drug at the time of the shooting.
Crutcher’s twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, said that finding the PCP is “irrelevant to the case.”
“If they did (find it), that was discovered after he was shot and murdered,” Tiffany Crutcher told the Daily News, adding that discovering drugs is “not justification for using force.”
Wood came out in defense of Shelby as the U.S. Department of Justice announced they are opening an investigation into the incident.
The Department of Justice probe is separate from the local district attorney investigation into whether the shooting was justified.
Shelby, who has been on the force since 2011, was put on paid administrative leave pending the investigation.
Shelby was the first officer to arrive to the scene around 7:40 p.m. on Friday night and wasn’t “really sure what’s going on” when she saw that Crutcher’s SUV was straddling the center line of the northeast Tulsa road with its engine idling and its doors open, her attorney said.
Crutcher’s car had broken down after he left a music appreciation class at Tulsa Community College, according to his family.
Wood said that Shelby radioed for backup after the father-of-four “never makes any response to her” when she asks him whether the SUV belongs to him.
Wood said that Crutcher “had his head tilted down but eyes on and fixated on” Shelby.
Shelby’s dash cam wasn’t activated because she never turned on her top lights and sirens, so there is no video footage of their initial interaction.
Helicopter footage and dash cam video from the squad car of a second officer show Crutcher raising his arms and walking slowly towards the car while several officers arrive on the scene.
“The video shows that officers were not in any immediate danger. The video shows that Terence did not make any sudden movements,” Solomon-Simmons told The News.
Crutcher was within a few feet of his car when another officer, Tyler Turnbough, deployed his Taser, according to the video.
Shelby simultaneously fired a single, fatal gunshot into Crutchner’s upper right chest. He then collapsed to the ground and lies motionless in a pool of blood.
Police have said that Shelby shot after Crutcher tried to reach inside the SUV’s driver side window.
Attorneys for the Crutcher family dispute that the window was rolled down.
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, attorneys presented an enhanced screen grab taken from police video showing an alleged streak of blood streaming down the window and onto the car door after Crutcher was shot.
They argued the image is proof that the window was closed.
“You can see it is completely up and there is blood going almost to the top of the window,” said attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing the family along with Melvin C. Hall and Solomon-Simmons.
“We thought it was important to address this misinformation that has been put out for public consumption,” Crump said. Crump has also represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.
Ashley, the Tulsa police spokesperson, told The News that the car window was open at the time of the shooting.
No weapon was ever found on Crutcher or inside his car, police confirmed.
Crutcher’s family continued their call for charges against Shelby.
“We’re still deeply saddened and we just want justice,” Tiffany Crutcher told The News. “We want for her to be held accountable and we just want for them to do what’s right. Everyone saw the video.”
Meanwhile, Rev. Al Sharpton said Tuesday he was asked by Crutcher’s father to “come to Tulsa and help secure justice.”
According to Sharpton’s National Action Network, Sharpton will confer with Crutcher’s family and decide the best time to visit.