Will PCP Finding Affect Terrence Crutcher Case?
Terrence Crutcher, who was shot to death by Tulsa Oklahoma police officer Betty Shelby in September, had PCP in his system during the incident, according to a toxicology report released on Tuesday by the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner.
PCP (Phencyclidine,) also known as Angel Dust, is a powerful recreational drug, originally developed for medical purposes, with known dissociative and hallucinogenic side-effects. Some people on PCP may experience paranoia or violent outbursts, and physical strength is often amplified greatly, perhaps because the individual feels no pain. However, it’s important to note that the police video, and eye-witness accounts, didn’t record any violent or threatening behavior prior to the shooting.
Officer Shelby, who has been charged with manslaughter by the District Attorney, had stopped with other officers to investigate Crutcher’s SUV, which was stopped in the middle of the road, when she thought that Crutcher was speaking and acting strangely. She ordered him to comply with certain commands, and though he put his hands in the air, and never threatened the officer, he walked slowly back to his vehicle, ignoring her shouts to stop and get down. Officer Shelby claims that Crutcher appeared to start to reach into the truck, and fearing he was reaching for a weapon, she shot him in the chest. However, a close examination of the videotape shows the window was rolled up. No weapon was found in the victim’s truck, or at the scene.
The death of Terrence Crutcher shocked many across the nation, and the world, in September, and has been cited as an example of police over-reach and brutality by Black Lives Matter activists, and others concerned with excessive force and civil rights abuses by law enforcement. Supporters of officer Shelby will probably interpret the presence of PCP in his system as evidence that Crutcher was both mentally impaired, and a possible threat to Shelby, at the time of the shooting.
But Crutcher family lawyers point out that the mere presence of illicit recreational drug’s in a person’s system is not sufficient reason for the police to use deadly force. For that, the officer’s life must be in clear and present danger. And though she may have been frightened and confused, Officer Shelby’s life did not appear to be in danger, based on the video and eye witness testimony. They stress that Crutcher was a man in need of help and medical attention, and had done nothing to deserve this violent death.
Photo: Tulsa, Oklahoma Police Department / AOL.com