The driver’s side window of Terence Crutcher’s vehicle was rolled down during his fatal encounter with police last week, a source inside the Tulsa Police Department with knowledge of the shooting investigation told The Frontier on Wednesday.
Crutcher family attorneys Benjamin Crump and Damario Solomon-Simmons held a press conference outside the Tulsa County Courthouse on Tuesday where they showed an enlarged image taken from the video of Friday’s shooting.
The image, they claimed, showed that the driver’s side window of Crutcher’s stalled SUV was rolled up, meaning the 40-year-old couldn’t have reached inside the vehicle. The enlarged image appeared to show a large bloodstain down the window that flowed down to the door. However, a source inside the police department said on Wednesday that was incorrect.
The window, the source said, was down “about five inches,” theoretically leaving room for at least part of Crutcher’s arm to enter the vehicle.
Damario Solomon-Simmons, one of the attorneys working on behalf of the Crutcher family, said he still believes the car window was rolled up during the encounter. Regardless of the window, however, he reiterated his belief that Crutcher was killed unjustly.
“First, whether the car window was down or up, the video proves that unarmed Terence Crutcher was unjustly killed with his hands up,” Solomon-Simmons said. “With that being said, based upon our analysis of the available video footage, we strongly believe that the window was up and any reports to the contrary are simply not true.”
It’s unclear what the information provided by police might mean for the investigation. Through her attorney, Scott, Wood, Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby said she felt threatened during the encounter with Crutcher and said she feared Crutcher was reaching into the SUV. Police have said no weapon was found on Crutcher’s body, or in the vehicle. They did confirm Tuesday that a small vial of PCP was found in the vehicle.
Crutcher was shot one time in the chest, and in the helicopter video released by TPD on Monday, copious amounts of blood could be seen pouring from his chest wound. Crutcher’s autopsy report, which will be completed by the state Medical Examiner’s Office, has not yet been released.
The decision on whether to charge Shelby, who joined TPD in December of 2011 after four years at the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, will likely come next week
Homicide Sgt. Dave Walker, whose unit is handling the shooting investigation, said he does not think the investigatory packet will be given to Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler until late Friday at the earliest. In the meantime, Shelby remains on routine paid administrative leave.
Scott Wood, Shelby’s attorney, told The Frontier on Wednesday that he had tried enlarging the image as well and “it was too pixelated to tell one way or the other.”
“You know, the family is distraught and I don’t blame them for looking at that and thinking the window was up,” Wood said. “That’s why everyone needs to wait. The only person who is going to have every piece of evidence is (Tulsa County District Attorney) Steve Kunzweiler.
“Everyone needs to take a breath and calm down and and let the investigation take place. Even if (Kunzweiler) decides she needs to be charged, she’s presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
Police, sheriff prepare for case outcome
Tulsa Police have canceled all new leave requests in the wake of last week’s shooting, Public Information Officer Leland Ashley told The Frontier on Wednesday.
Additionally, all TPD officers are riding two officers to a car “for the time being,” Ashley said.
“Normally most officers ride alone. You might see a supervisor or someone like that by themselves, but by and large it’s going to be two officers in every car,” he said.
Ashley said the department has taken these “precautionary measures” as it awaits the outcome of its investigation into the Crutcher shooting.
“We will protect our citizens in the event of any large scale disturbances,” Ashley said.
The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office has made similar, if not more widespread, preparations, according to Public Information Officer Casey Roebuck.
The Sheriff’s Office has not canceled leave or vacation requests yet, she said, but is requiring two patrol cars to respond to most calls for service. She said future vacation requests that have not already been approved will be denied.
They’ve also “taken extra measures” to protect the Tulsa County Courthouse and the Faulkner Building, which houses TCSO administration, in the event of riots, she said. She declined to elaborate on those measures.
“We’ve also told detention officers not to wear their uniforms outside of the jail,” she said.
Sheriff Vic Regalado has worried that his detention officers, who are not considered full-time patrol deputies, may be targeted outside the workplace due to anti-Police sentiment.
“We’ve also told the Police department they have our full support going forward,” Roebuck said. She said TCSO has rescheduled outreach events like “Cops on Donut Shops” and a “community engagement day” that were scheduled for Saturday out of “an abundance of caution.”
The Tulsa Fire Department has also made plans, Capt. Stan May said. He said that in the event of a disturbance, TFD will put “five or six” firefighters in every truck.
“We’ll make sure that everyone knows if they’re not book on out of town vacation, they’ll be expected to respond immediately (if there’s a large disturbance,)” May said. “Traditionally any protest or disturbance is not aimed at the fire department, they know our focus is on medical emergencies or property. We rarely see any resistance.”