Unarmed Black Man Fatally Shot by Tulsa Officer Had PCP in His System, Autopsy Says

Terrence Crutcher, the unarmed black man who was fatally shot by Officer Betty Shelby, a five-year veteran of the Tulsa Police Department, had PCP in his system according to a medical examiner’s report. Crutcher, 40, suffered a “penetrating gunshot wound of chest,” states the report. Shelby was charged with first-degree manslaughter by Tulsa District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler who concluded: Shelby “reacted unreasonably” and became “emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted.”

Unarmed Black Man Fatally Shot by Tulsa Officer Had PCP in His System, Autopsy Says

By Sarah Larimer

October 11, 2016

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An unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a white police officer in Tulsa had the drug PCP in his system when he died last month, according to a medical examiner’s report.

Terence Crutcher had “acute phencyclidine intoxication” when he was shot by officer Betty Shelby, according to a report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Oklahoma, which was released Tuesday.

Crutcher, 40, suffered a “penetrating gunshot wound of chest,” states the report, which notes that some of his ribs were fractured and that a bullet fragment was recovered.

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“The cause of death is penetrating gunshot wound of chest with musculoskeletal and visceral injuries,” states the report. “The manner of death is classified as homicide.”

[‘He was my compassionate son,’ Terence Crutcher’s mother says after fatal shooting in Tulsa]

Shelby was charged with first-degree manslaughter in the wake of Crutcher’s death. Tulsa District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler filed the charge against the five-year veteran of the Tulsa Police Department after the Sept. 16 shooting.

Shelby “reacted unreasonably” and became “emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted,” an affidavit stated.

[Previously: White Tulsa officer charged in death of unarmed black man, freed on bond]

If convicted, Shelby, who was released on bond after her arrest, could face a minimum four-year prison term. During a court appearance in September, one of her attorneys entered a plea of not guilty on her behalf.

Another of Shelby’s attorneys, Scott Wood, said in an email Tuesday that the autopsy test result “confirms what Officer Shelby surmised the night of the shooting from Mr. Crutcher’s appearance and non-compliant behavior.”

“Does the fact he was under the influence of pcp in and of itself justify the shooting? Of course not,” Wood wrote in an email. “It does however, help to explain his behavior, and that she was correct to consider him unpredictable, and therefore a significant threat to her safety. One of the recognized risks of pcp is that it can lead to self-destructive behavior.  It is another piece of the fact pattern which led to Mr. Crutcher’s death.”

More than 700 people have been fatally shot by police this year, according to a Washington Post database. Of those shootings, 175 involved black men.

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Crutcher was shot as he stood by his stalled SUV, a death that was captured on police cameras. Footage of the incident shows Crutcher walking toward his vehicle with his hands raised, while officers trail behind. Crutcher, a father of four, lingers at a window of his car, then falls to the ground.

“Shots fired!” a female voice can be heard yelling in the footage, which doesn’t contain a clear view of the instant Shelby fired the fatal shot.

Crutcher wasn’t armed with a gun and one wasn’t in his car, Tulsa police have said.

[More police shootings are being caught on camera — but many of those videos aren’t released to the public]

Wood, Shelby’s attorney, has said Crutcher wasn’t following police commands and started to reach through a window, which prompted Shelby to open fire. Wood has also previously said that his client believed Crutcher was acting like someone who might have been under the influence of PCP.

The Tulsa World reported:

Tulsa Police Homicide Sgt. Dave Walker told the Tulsa World on Sept. 20 that officers found a vial of PCP when searching Crutcher’s SUV after his Sept. 16 death, but he did not say at that time if detectives had evidence indicating Crutcher used it that day.

“Make no mistake, it was clear from the beginning that charges were necessary in this case. The officer responsible for the death of Terence Crutcher had to be brought to justice to be held accountable for her actions,” Crutcher family attorney Benjamin Crump said in a statement in September. “We remain optimistic that the State Attorney will now do his job, and vigorously prosecute the officer to the fullest extent of the law, bringing some form of justice to the Crutcher family.”

 

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