Terence Crutcher wasn't armed. And I don't think he was an imminent threat when he was shot. Therefore it wasn't reasonable. And that's the legal standard for a justifiable shooting.
One very troubling thing here is why nobody renders aid. It probably wouldn't have helped (with a bullet going through a body from one side to the other). But you can't just shoot somebody and not render aid. You can't. And they did. What they hell were they doing backing up in formation? What weird part of training was that?
Nor do I like the helicopter guy saying, "he looks like a bad dude." Would the guy have said that about a white guy? I don't know. I first thought it was a contributing factor, but from what I've read their broadcast was not being transmitted to the officers.
But what was Crutcher doing? False narratives are unfair. And dangerous, as we just saw in Charlotte. (Keith Lamont Scott seems to have approached officers with a gun, not a book.)
Despite what I keep reading, Crutcher was not complying. Crutcher was going to his SUV against the orders of cops. This is odd, worrisome even. But it doesn't elevate somebody to a lethal threat. And Crutcher’s hands were not in the air when he was shot.
But I still don't understand why the cop shot at that moment. I like to think, had I been there, I would have taken Crutcher out with my straight baton and a blow to a leg. Tasing would be justified. I don't want him getting in that car when my partner is telling him not to. Perhaps, if you have the muscle, you just tackle the guy.
It seems to me Crutcher wanted to get back in his car. And cops are not going to let that happen, because we don't to be killed like Officer Dinkheller died. What I'm saying is this isn't Walter Scott bad. It wasn't Charles Kinsey bad. It wasn't Levan Jones bad. It wasn't James Boyd bad. It wasn't Bobby Canipe bad. It wasn't Jonathan Ayers bad.
Bad is bad, and there's no reason that every police-involved shooting has to be as bad as the worst shootings to warrant criticism. But I mention those names in part because many of these names are not African American. If people don't know that cops shoot white people, too, they should. And sometimes these shootings aren't justified. Too many police are too quick to pull the trigger. And this problem is not evenly spread throughout policing (more on that in my next post).
Back to Crutcher: As a cop you're also aware that gunfire deaths of cops are up 50 percent this year. But you can't just shoot people because they're non-compliant and drop their hands. You can't be a police officer and be that afraid. Damn that Dinkheller video from 18 years ago. Before you shot, you need to wait till you see an imminent threat, like a gun or movement towards what you know is a gun. Look, people should be compliant, but as a cop you know people aren't going to be compliant. It's why we have police. People do not act rationally and police officers have to deal with them.
That said, this wasn't just a motorist with a stalled car. From the 911 call:
Caller: There was a guy running from it. He, like 'somebody was going to blow up.' I think he's smoking something.Crutcher was not acting reasonably. He's talking about something blowing up. He's roaming the street in what was probably a drug-induced high (we don't know for sure, but PCP was found in the car). None of this justifies the shooting. But it does all matter.
Dispatch: Ohh (laughing).
Caller: I was rude to him too because I got out and was like, 'do you need help'? And he was like, 'come here, come here.' I said 'well, what's going on' and he's like, 'come here come here. I think it's going to blow up.' I'm like, 'nah I'm out.'
Caller: He started freaking out and he took off running.
Let's imagine that Crutcher was going to blow up his SUV or had guns in there. It's possible (though it wasn't the case). Then would the shooting be justified? Still, no. (But it sure would be a better narrative.) Even then the shooting would not have been reasonable because at the moment the shot was fired, I don't think a reasonable police officer would see an imminent threat. At least I don't. As a cop, you don't have to wait till a gun is pointed at you before you shoot. You shouldn't wait till a gun is pointed at you before you shoot. But there's got to be a gun! I mean, people should be compliant, but as a cop you know people aren't going to be compliant. It's why we have cops.
So now we'll see how justice plays out. I suspect the officer will be criminally charged, as does happen in many bad shootings.
So here we have another "incident." One of many, certainly. And don't ignore the historical context. But there will be another bad policing shooting. I guarantee it. We can't base reform on anecdote. Cops kill roughly three people a day. They're not all good shootings, but most of them are.
What is the goal? The goal could be fewer bad shootings. The goal could be more accountability for tax-payer funded agents of state. Fine. But we're never going to have zero bad shootings. Not only is that impossible, it's not even a good goal. When cops save a life by killing a criminal, it is not an example of "global and national hatred." Policing is not a pacifist occupation. We give cops guns because sometimes, at certain moments, we want them to shoot somebody. That is the reality. The way forward cannot be continued outrage, incident by incident.
That said, we can reduce bad and unnecessary police-involve shootings. I'll get to that in my next post.