Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Oklahoma ACLU seeks criminal charges in police killing of unarmed Tulsa man

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 10:45 AM

The ACLU has issued a news release calling for criminal charges against Tulsa police officers who stunned then fatally shot an unarmed man whose car had broken down. He had his hands upraised for some of the time before shots were fired. The news release, notes a failure by police  to make any move toward medical assistance after the shooting.

The ACLU release is one of the most unvarnished I've seen. But in light of the circumstances — including commentary from above by people aboard a police helicopter about the "bad dude" on the ground (that he was a large black man seems to be the basis) — it is understandable. We have a national problem with the attitude of many (not all) police toward the people they protect. It's not a happy coincidence that 70 percent of  white Little Rock police officers don't want to live in a city with more minority than white residents and that they cite "crime" and the  schools, which happen to be majority black, as reasons.

Telling too are some raw statistics.

Police killed 999 people in 2015 and have killed almost 700 this year with more than three months to go.

Police have a job that can be dangerous, but they  carry guns and they enjoy the support and respect of most in the community.   The number of police slain on the job has dropped steadily since 1974, to 24 nationally in 2015. UPDATE: A reader's question of this citation led to another citation that put the 2015 death of police by gunfire at 42.

The ACLU of Oklahoma statement from Ryan Kiesel, ACLU executive director:

“A Tulsa Police officer murdered Terence Crutcher in cold blood. Each of the officers present were complicit in the unconscionable, reprehensible, and disgusting killing of this unarmed, defenseless man, by allowing him to bleed to death on the street rather than attempting any immediate medical aid or attention. These Tulsa Police Department officers have made it abundantly clear how little regard they have for Tulsa’s communities of color. By shooting a defenseless Black man and then shirking their legal and moral obligation to render aid as he lay dying in the street, these TPD officers clearly could not care less about whether the Black citizens they are sworn to protect live or die.

“We call today on law enforcement officers and law enforcement agencies around the state and around the nation to condemn the murderous actions of the Tulsa Police Department. In a world where our government continues to prove how little regard it has for the lives and the dignity of Black Americans, to remain silent is to be complicit. It is well past time for the good men and women who serve their communities faithfully to speak out, and condemn this murder of a defenseless Black man.”

Added Brady Henderson, ACLU of Oklahoma Legal Director:

“These videos prove that the Tulsa Police Department’s initial claim that Terence Crutcher was refusing to put his hands in the air was a boldfaced lie, as were TPD’s statements about his transport and death at a local hospital. The videos are clear—Terence had his hands in the air, and posed no threat to those present—right up until one of the officers gunned him down, and then her four companions watched him bleed to death in the street, making no attempt to render aid.

“As Terence’s family and community plead for peaceful protests and level heads, today’s promise of an independent federal investigation perhaps will bring some hope for peaceful resolution to a community that has been brutally betrayed by the people sworn to protect it. If this killing is investigated competently and fairly, I believe we will see murder or manslaughter charges against the shooter, and hopefully accessory charges against the officers who treated Terence Crutcher like a piece of meat rather than a human being. Their actions were immoral, reprehensible, and outright criminal. Putting Terence’s killer and her companions behind bars won’t bring Terrence back, but it is a necessary part of repairing the broken bond between police and communities of color, a rift that continues to claim lives.”

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