August 17, 2017

“60 Minutes” completely mangles its report on Terence Crutcher

Terence Crutcher 60 Minutes Police

Getting news from 60 Minutes is like getting news from the village idiot, as shown by its ludicrous segment on Terence Crutcher.

Last night, 60 Minutes devoted two segments to the Terence Crutcher shooting. As you may recall, in September 2016, Betty Shelby, a police officer in Tulsa, came upon a running SUV abandoned in the middle of the road, with the driver’s side window open. She then saw walking towards her — and the SUV — a large black man whom she’d noticed before.

The man, like the SUV, had been standing in the middle of the road, with his mental motor barely running. His affect was enough to concern Shelby at the time but, because he seemed harmless, she ignored him, although the thought of drug use was high on her list of explanations for his behavior. With the man heading towards the SUV, though, the connection between him and the SUV concerned her because neither boded well in a dangerous part of Tulsa.

When Shelby approached the man, who was later identified as Terence Crutcher, he refused to respond to her. Instead, after initially putting his hands in the air, even though she hadn’t asked him to, he started reaching for his pocket. Shelby’s training and instincts told her that he might be reaching for a weapon. She therefore took out her gun, pointed it at him, and repeatedly ordered him to keep his hands out of his pockets and to stop moving.

Crutcher completely ignored Shelby. Both a dashboard cam and a helicopter cam show him heading relentlessly towards the open driver’s side window of his SUV. As he was walking, another patrol man pulled up and, since Shelby had a gun, he pulled out his taser. It was his dashboard cam that caught the last few seconds of Crutcher’s life:

By the time Crutcher reached the SUV’s door, he was no longer visible to the helicopter cam. He was, however, still visible on the dashboard cam. In the last second of Crutcher’s life, before Shelby and the other cop obscure the dash cam, what one sees is Crutcher bending forward slightly towards the window, with his shoulder’s dropping. At that moment, Shelby shoots him, hitting him in his chest. He drops, although nobody immediately moves to treat him. Instead, you can see the police back away slowly while still pointing their weapons at someone they deem a potential danger, as well as taking defensive positions in case anyone else is around.

After his death, police found PCP in Crutcher’s SUV. The autopsy also showed that he had large amounts of PCP in his system. He also had TCP, which is even stronger than PCP.

The 60 Minutes segment featured Bill Whitaker interviewing a sad-eyed Shelby and Crutcher’s soignee, perfectly presented twin sister. The latter assures the audience that Crutcher was a peaceful angel of a man who loved both gospel music and his four children (assertions accompanied by an angelic picture of Crutcher with one of his four children). Whitaker slips in the fact that Crutcher was a drug abuser with a prison record (five years for selling crack cocaine).

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The sister also says that Crutcher was just following his Daddy’s mandate to put his hands on the car when cops stop him. It doesn’t seem to occur to Whitaker to ask whether Daddy Crutcher meant that his son should do this in defiance of direct, repeated police orders or if he told Crutcher to engage in this car-touching conduct only when he’d reached the open window on the driver side of the car. Instead, Whitaker just nods sympathetically, as if what the sister said made sense.

Rather than rehash the whole 60 Minutes production, which you can watch here if you wish, I’d like to focus on four of the worst errors. The first, and worst, error is that Whitaker repeatedly says that Crutcher was not acting aggressively. Unfortunately, no one — not Shelby, not her husband who was coincidentally in the helicopter, and not the cop with the taser — corrects this.

It is true that Crutcher was not screaming, running around, or directly attacking Shelby. However, the fact that he ignored her completely, that he refused to obey her instructions to stop moving, that he kept reaching for his pockets, and that he headed relentlessly for the open window of an SUV in which there might have been a weapon — those were all highly aggressive acts.

Each of them was a signal that Crutcher was not yielding to Shelby’s jurisdiction over him and that he had plans that could have boded very badly for Shelby. That was almost certainly why the helicopter pilot said that Crutcher looked like a “bad dude.” He was not referring to Crutcher’s skin color; he was referring to Crutcher’s very obvious and disturbing behavior.

Of course, the race hustlers don’t care. The pilot’s words are the key to their narrative that Shelby killed Crutcher because he was black, not because she thought (correctly) that he was a huge guy, hopped up on drugs, behaving aggressively.

The fact that Crutcher ultimately had no weapon is irrelevant. If you act as if you have a weapon, and behave in other dangerous and nefarious ways, that is how the police are going to treat you. Moreover, for a man as big as Crutcher, his fists could have been a weapon. When he dropped his shoulders, he could have been winding up to deal Shelby a devastating blow to the head that could easily have killed her.

The second error, which Crutcher’s sister asserts and that Whitaker does not challenge (nor, sadly, does Shelby address), is the claim that Shelby was too quick on the trigger. The sister insists that, rather than assuming that Crutcher was reaching for a gun when he got to his car window, Shelby should have “paused” and waited to see what Crutcher planned to do. Although Shelby correctly says says that a pause could have meant her death, she doesn’t expand on that and the ill-informed Whitaker fails to follow-up.

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The reality is that, by the time Crutcher is done reaching into the car, if he was in fact going for a gun, Shelby was already a dead cop walking. That’s not theory; that’s reality:

While the Left might think a cop should always give the benefit of the doubt to someone who is behaving erratically and aggressively, so sane cop would ever think that. Shelby fully understood that, having given Crutcher endless orders and opportunities to cooperate, it was now a matter of his life versus hers. That 20-20 hindsight shows that he couldn’t have shot her is meaningless. After all, with his posture changing as it did, he might also have wound-up and punched her so hard that he killed her. He was, after all, a big man.

The third error was the claim that, once Shelby shot Crutcher, the cops should instantly have rushed to perform first aid on him. That’s wrong. What the cops first needed to do, and in fact did, was rush to ensure that the situation was under control. You can see them back away from Crutcher lest he did in fact have a weapon and was still able to shoot, check out the SUV’s interior, and scope the surrounding scene. All of those were reasonable steps to take before concluding that they would not be ambushed and could therefore turn their attention to Crutcher.

And the fourth error is the usual claim that the cop used excessive force. The sister says Shelby could have shot Crutcher somewhere less lethal than the center of his body mass. Shelby correctly defended herself against the charge by saying it’s not a movie and she’s not trained to shoot hands or legs. She might have added that, if someone is hopped up on PCP and TCP, as Crutcher was, you have to make every shot count. It’s entirely possible to fire several shots into the center of someone’s body and have them keep attacking. Cops can’t play Hollywood cops. It’s life or death on the streets.

What 60 Minutes aired about Terence Crutcher’s death does not constitute journalism. It’s a mix between emotional masturbation and cop bashing, a mixture of misinformation and innuendo that would embarrass anyone who is a real journalist. For 60 Minutes, of course, the segment was just standard operating procedure.

I’ll end here with a reminder of what the police have to put up with as they go about their duties (language warning if you have children around):

About Bookworm 453 Articles
Bookworm came late to conservativism but embraced it with passion. She's been blogging since 2004 about anything that captures her fancy -- and that's usually politics. Her blog's motto is "Conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions; liberals have conclusions and sell them as facts."