Police Officer Who Killed Terence Crutcher Is Acquitted

[Content Note: Racism; police brutality; death.]

Last September, Tulsa, Oklahoma Police Officer Betty Shelby shot and killed Terence Crutcher, a 40-year-old Black man, whose vehicle had stalled. Crutcher was unarmed.

The immediate police account was that Crutcher had refused to comply with an order to raise his hands. As per usual, dashcam footage soon contradicted that account.

Shelby was quickly charged with first-degree manslaughter. She claimed that she had feared for her life, leveraging ancient tropes about Scary Black Men who threaten Helpless White Women.

And, despite the fact that Shelby was an armed police officer with backup and Crutcher was unarmed, it worked.

Yesterday, Shelby was found not guilty.

Crutcher was put on trial. There was PCP found in his system—and fables about PCP turning Black men into inhuman supervillains (even when they aren't on the drug) certainly played a central role in creating a portrait of an unarmed man so frightening that Shelby had no choice but to fatally shoot him to save herself.

She had a fucking choice.

And we all have a choice in this moment. We can choose to peddle apologia for a police officer who took a man's life, lied about it, then created a white supremacist fantasy that the unarmed Black man with his hands over his head was posing a deadly threat to her.

Or we can choose to take up space in solidarity with Terence Crutcher's family and community, and do every fucking thing we can to ensure that Black Lives Matter is never again invoked as a plea.

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