Charlotte Police Action-Appears to be Justified Shooting
Officer Brently Vinson and Shooting Victim Keith Lamont Scott
Tulsa Police Actions-Police Reaction Less Clear
Officer Betty Shelby and Shooting Victim Terence Crutcher
Update, 9/22, Officer Shelby Will Be Charged with Manslaughter
This week, unfortunately, our nation was shocked with multiple acts of terror and two police actions that included shootings where the shooting victims were both Black. The officers that were involved were not quite so homologous.
Tulsa Police Officer, Betty Shelby: In Tulsa, the officer was Betty Shelby, a 43-year-old white female who began her law enforcement career in 2007 with the Tulsa County Sheriffs Department then joined the Tulsa Police Department in 2011.
Charlotte Police Officer: In Charlotte, the officer was Brently Vinson, a Black male who had joined the Charlotte PD two years ago.
The Charlotte incident was met with immediate community unrest and rioting resulting in injuries to at least 16 officers and thousands of dollars in property damage. There were also demonstrations in Tulsa. The question is why the Charlotte police shooting evoke a much stronger protest than the Tulsa police shooting?
The Tulsa incident was very well documented with video from dash cams as well as from an overhead police helicopter. Ironically one of the officers in the helicopter was the husband of the officer involved in the shooting. The audio from the chopper could not be heard by the officers on the ground. When you view the videos, read the transcripts of the recordings, and read the reports filed by the officers, there is a nagging question as to why Officer Shelby decided to use lethal force. This is accentuated by the actions of fellow Officer Tyler Turnbough, who is also white, when he made the decision to use a stun gun rather than his sidearm on Crutcher. The video and the recounting of the shooting by the officers who were on scene seem to confirm that Shelby and Turnbough both discharged their weapons at the same time. Below is the video from the dash cam in one of the police vehicles. Take some time and watch the events as they unfold.
Tulsa Shooting Video: Shots Fired at 1:55 on the recording
The questions in my mind were:
- Why did Turnbough feel a stun gun was more appropriate to deploy versus Shelby’s decision to use lethal force?
- What was in Shelby’s mind when she saw Crutcher seemingly reaching into the driver’s side window?
- What was Crutcher reaching into the vehicle to retrieve? There was no gun found on scene, only an unspecified amount of drugs.
- Why didn’t Crutcher simply comply with the officer’s commands when confronted with overwhelming force?
- Which officer on scene was in charge of the scene prior to the shooting?
The Charlotte incident apparently is documented by videos including body cams from some of the officers. Officer Vinson, who shot and killed Mr. Scott, was plain closed, wearing a police vest, and was not wearing a body cam. The Charlotte officials have not released the video yet to the public. (May have to shortly)(The primary difference between the Tulsa incident and this Charlotte incident was that Scott did have a firearm. As of this writing, we only have the account of the shooting from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Chief Kerr Putney. He has stated that “The officers gave loud, clear, verbal commands, which were also heard by many of the witnesses,” Putney said. “Mr. Scott exited his vehicle armed with a handgun as the officers continued to yell at him to drop it.” An officer subsequently fired his weapon, striking Scott, who police said was treated immediately and later pronounced dead.
Personally, I cannot image that Chief Putney, who is also Black, would spin a narrative that would not be confirmed by the body cams which he has reviewed. While the citizens of Charlotte may be skeptical about the shooting, the immediate resort to rioting and violence seems contrived and political. All officials, from the White House to State and Local officials should be calling for time to complete the investigation. Should the Charlotte PD release the video immediately? Not necessarily. As long as the due process is done expeditiously and thoroughly, and reviewed with the public, the public should wait for this to unfold. The shooting was witnessed, video recorded, and the perpetrator had a weapon. Time Out is required.
Rioting in Charlotte
The same is true for the Tulsa shooting. While the video accounts appear to call into question the decision by Officer Shelby to use lethal force, there are a lot of additional investigation tasks and forensics tasks to be completed. These incidents and the response to them, point to a key question:
Are We a Nation of Laws or Anarchy?
When we hear deafening silence from the White House and other authorities regarding the rioting and looting. These same law enforcement leaders refuse to call for time to process the incidents, and to allow the Laws of this Nation to be applied to these tragic events. In short, the White House and the Justice Department do not stand up for the Rule of Law! Their lack of response is a dog whistle for anarchy and Black Lives Matters is happy to kick into gear and destroy their own communities.
While Black lives certainly matter, all lives also matter. In 2016, there are approximately 850,000 local, State and Federal law enforcement officers. To date there have been 702 fatalities that have resulted from police shootings. 163 of these deaths were Blacks. This is 23% of the total deaths for a Black population that equals 13% of the total US population.
These statistics do not support a police racial bias charge by Black activists who use these incidents to fund raise and incite violence. Police, do not target Blacks for extinction and in fact show up at the riots to protect the protestors and the property and lives of those who live in the neighborhoods.
President Obama must stand against anarchy against the rule of law. Otherwise, his legacy will be that he intentionally put Black lives in harm’s way for political gain.