Peace in Tulsa



Angie Pitts, of Tulsa, holds hands with Tulsa Police Officers while protesting the death of Terence Crutcher, who was shot by police, in front of the Tulsa Country Courthouse. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World

Karston Gilbert

On Sept. 20 2016 in Charlotte, N.C an unarmed, African-American man Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by police. After the shooting the city of Charlotte rioted the streets. Unlike Charlotte, Tulsa, remained at peace when news broke that Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby shot and killed Terence Crutcher, 40, an unarmed, African-American man.

Tulsa is known for the largest United States race riots in 1912.  Since then the community has worked together to make sure history does not repeat its self. The morning after Crutcher was killed the city did not riot. Police and local leader did everything they could to keep the city at peace.

“Building trust through transparency is most important,” said Tulsa Police Departments Deputy Chief Jonathan Brooks “The best way to understand the situation is to be educated on the situation.”

Peaceful protesters have stood outside of the Tulsa Police Department waiting for justice. Crutcher’s family hired civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is known for representing Trayvon Martin’s family when Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012.

“Police shootings are becoming more normal, which is sad,” said Devin Williams-Penick, senior, criminal justice major. “I wake up every morning and ask, ‘Who has died now?’ Violence is never the answer. Other cities can lean from Tulsa by being patient and knowing that justice will be served.”

Tulsa has been riot free since the death of Cruthcer. The Tulsa Police Department worked with his family and community leaders to keep the peace. Crutcher’s family was the first to see the non-edited dash cam and helicopter videos of the shooting. Community leaders were the second to see the video before being released to the public.

“Tulsa is very lucky to have such a strong relationship with it’s police department and other community leaders,” said Tulsa Mayor Elect G.T Bynum. Tulsa Police released un-edited videos of the shooting.

 “Citizens needed to know the truth,” said Bynum.

Shelby has been put on administrative leave and charged with first-degree manslaughter. According to Oklahoma state law 21 O.S. § 711, first degree manslaughter occurs when a death results from one of three specific criteria:

One, when perpetrated without a design to effect death by a person while engaged in the commission of a misdemeanor; Two, when perpetrated without a design to effect death, and in a heat of passion, but in a cruel and unusual manner, or by means of a dangerous weapon; Three, when perpetrated unnecessarily either while resisting an attempt by the person killed to commit a crime, or after such attempt shall have failed.

Shelby turned herself into to the Tulsa County jail and was released on a $50,000 bond after being booked.  

Recent developments in the case show that Crutcher was on drugs at the time of the shooting. In a report released by NBC News on Oct. 11, 2016, Crutcher had the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his system at the time of his death, according to results of a toxicology report released Tuesday. Police said they found a vial of PCP in his car.

It is unclear how the toxicology results could impact the case against Shelby, who prosecutors said “reacted unreasonably” and became “emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted.”