Terence Crutcher. Courtesy NewsOn6

As mourners approached the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and 56th Street North en route to Terence Crutcher’s funeral Saturday night, a sea of parked cars surrounded all sides of the intersection and a group held signs reading “we love you.”

The sanctuary at Antioch Baptist Church quickly filled to capacity and a small crowd of people stood at the doors waiting for their turn to get in. They were eventually permitted into the foyer to watch the service on TV monitors.

For close to three hours, family members, friends and clergy celebrated Crutcher’s life in a ceremony filled with gospel music, a fitting tribute to a man who hoped to obtain a music degree when he was fatally shot by Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby on Sept. 16.

Shelby is charged with first-degree manslaughter.


Terence Crutcher’s funeral. Courtesy NewsOn6

University of Tulsa Assistant Basketball Coach Shea Seals, who joked about being one of Crutcher’s several thousand cousins, read a letter he’d written from Crutcher’s point of view: “God chose me to make a difference.”

The speakers repeatedly referenced a comment heard from inside the Tulsa Police Department’s helicopter in a video released publicly since the shooting about Crutcher, 40, looking like “a bad dude.”

“Terence was not a bad dude,” Seals said, his voice cracking before he began to cry.

Attorney and family friend DeMario Solomon-Simmons described Crutcher as “a great dude.” He began his remarks by saying “it could have been me” and giving the names of other black men and women fatally shot by police.

“It could have been me, Terence Crutcher killed while needing help,” he said while the mourners shouted in affirmation. The sanctuary walls on all sides were spotted with posters, including one behind the pulpit proclaiming “This means war: You can’t have my community.”

Solomon-Simmons went on to detail how the Crutcher family helped the Tulsa community for decades with an open home and arms to those in need. Their son’s generosity was noted by the speakers again and again.

In a recorded message, his brother Darayle Crutcher said Terence would freely give whatever he had to another person even if it meant he would do without.

“He just wanted people to be happy,” Darayle Crutcher said.

Family matriarch Delphia Rex Hawkins of Oklahoma City read a letter from Crutcher’s 90-year-old grandfather, who is unable to travel.

“My child is gone forever,” he wrote.

He asked those in attendance to reach out with them for help affecting change.

One of Crutcher’s favorite gospel songs, “My Soul Has Been Anchored in the Lord,” followed.

Mayor Dewey Bartlett and state Sen. Kevin Matthews also gave their sympathies and thanked the mourners for the peaceful protests since Crutcher’s death.

Crutcher, a Central High School alumnus, and wife, Frenchel, have four children, ages 4-17. He is survived by his parents and two siblings, including his twin sister Tiffany. Two of his brothers preceded him in death.

The family, through a representative, asked media to respect their privacy at the ceremony by not approaching them for interviews or comments.