By Harry Colbert, Jr.
Add having car trouble to the list.
In case you’re wondering which list I’m speaking of, it’s the ever-growing list of ways for Black people in America to be murdered by law enforcement. That’s what happened in Tulsa, Okla. to 40-year-old Terence Crutcher on Sept. 16. Crutcher was leaving class at Tulsa Community College when he abandoned his vehicle telling a passerby he believed the car was going to catch fire and explode. That passerby called 911.
Then a report came that Crutcher was shot. The officer that shot him, Betty Shelby, said Crutcher was refusing to comply with her orders and refused to show his hand. Why a stranded motorist was being treated like a suspect instead of a citizen in need of assistance has yet to be answered. But the other question that needs to be answered is why does the video and audio of the shooting seem to show that Crutcher was anything but combative? In fact, he couldn’t be more compliant.
In the video of the killing … the police video of the homicide, Crutcher can be seen walking away from officers and with his hands up. Again, away from officers and with his hands raised. For some unknown reason one officer tasers Crutcher and Shelby, deciding that hitting a stranded motorist with volts of electricity wasn’t enough, shot and killed Crutcher, a man just leaving his college class. He was not aggressive. He was compliant with the officers’ commands. He was unarmed. He posed zero threat. And he is dead.
He is dead and I am fed up.
In Charlotte, N.C. it was Keith Lamont Scott who was killed. According to that city’s police chief there is body camera footage that will be shown to the family but not to the public. That footage may or may not show Scott holding a gun as the officer who shot him asserts. Scott’s daughter claims her father was waiting for a younger daughter to get out of school and was holding a book in his hand. With no video evidence to be shown to the public we are being asked to take the officer’s word. And maybe in this case his word is correct. But given the climate; and the fact that Scott wasn’t the subject of any incident or investigation at the time of the shooting … he just happened to be there … I’m not too easy to just take the officer’s word at face value. After all, cops lie.
Just last week in my hometown of St. Louis, videos unearthed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch seem to show then St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley planting a handgun on Anthony Lamar Smith after he shot him five times at point blank range following a vehicle chase. During the chase Stockley is heard saying he was “going to kill that (expletive).” He determined that upon sight he was going to murder Smith and that is exactly what he did. I guess cops do tell the truth, sometimes.
Thankfully Stockley was arrested and charged with first degree murder – even if his arrest didn’t come until years after the killing. More often than not … far more often than not … the killers in blue get a paid vacation and are eventually set back out on the streets to kill again if they so choose. What’s the consequence to them?
The reason Charlotte is on fire may have as much to do with the killing of Scott as it does with the fact that there was no conviction of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Randall Kerrick, who was charged in the shooting death of Florida A&Mfootball player Jonathan Ferrell after Ferrell was seeking assistance followinga September 2013 car accident.Kerrick’s trial ended in a hung jury. But at least he faced a jury.
Darren Wilson (Mike Brown) didn’t have to face a jury. Neither did Timothy Loehmann (Tamir Rice); nor Daniel Pantaleo (Eric Garner). No repercussions for Sean Williams (John Crawford, III) either … and this was his second on-duty killing. No trial for Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, the two who are responsible for the death of Jamar Clark in North Minneapolis. It’s been more than two months and we’re still waiting to see if Ramsey County Attorney John Choi will have the guts to charge Jeronimo Yanez after gunning down Philando Castile in Falcon Heights … pulling him over because of his “wide-set nose.” This paragraph would take up the entire 12 sheets of paper that Insight News is printed on if I kept naming the names of officers who killed, or are responsible for death (in the case of Sandra Bland) Black people in America.
Instead I turn back to the killing of Terence Crutcher. With almost … no, scratch the word almost … with indisputable and overwhelming video evidence, hopefully Betty Shelby will soon be behind bars for her criminal act after being charged on Thursday (Sept. 22) with first degree manslaughter. But without the video, sad to say, Crutcher would just be another brother dead.
How many other times have we just blindly accepted the word of the police? How many other Black men and women are dead only because a cop decided it was their turn to add someone else’s name to the list?