By JUSTIN JUOZAPAVICIUS
TULSA, Okla. — A black man fatally shot by a white Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer responding to a stalled vehicle had no weapon on him or in his SUV, the city’s police chief said Monday.
Local and federal authorities are investigating the death of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said before the department released dashcam footage of Friday’s shooting.
“We will achieve justice in this case,” Jordan said.
Meanwhile, family members and community leaders who have viewed the footage said it clearly shows that Crutcher’s hands were in the air when he was shot.
“We saw that Terence did not have any weapon. Terence did not make any sudden movements. We saw that Terence was not being belligerent,” one of the attorneys for the family, Damario Solomon-Simmons, said at a news conference separate from one police held.
U.S. Attorney Danny C. Williams said the Department of Justice will conduct a separate civil rights investigation into the shooting.
“The Justice Department is committed to investigating allegations of force by law enforcement officers and will devote whatever resources are necessary to ensure that all allegations of serious civil rights violations are fully and completely investigated,” he said.
Tulsa Police Sgt. Shane Tuell confirmed that relatives were shown the recordings Sunday ahead of the planned public release.
“We wanted them to see it before it was released so they wouldn’t be blindsided by it,” Tuell said. “We wanted to be able to have that intimate time with them, with their attorney, to see if they had any questions or concerns.
“With something of this magnitude, we’re trying an approach that we believe is necessary to further that transparency.”
About a dozen protesters gathered outside the Tulsa County courthouse on Monday morning, waving signs that read, “This Stops Now” and “Not Going, Keep Protesting.” They also chanted, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” One protester, Tulsa resident Mark Whited, said more needed to be done to “bridge the mistrusts” between communities.
Authorities said the shooting occurred after an officer stopped to investigate a vehicle in the middle of a road. Police said Crutcher approached after officers arrived to assist. Police spokeswoman Jeanne MacKenzie has said Crutcher refused orders to put up his hands.
Police say Tulsa officer Betty Shelby fired the fatal shot, while officer Tyler Turnbough used a stun gun on Crutcher. Both officers are white, MacKenzie said Monday. Shelby, who was placed on paid leave, was hired in December 2011, while Turnbough was hired in January 2009, police said.