Toxicology results showing the hallucinogenic drug PCP in the system of Terence Crutcher — the unarmed black man shot by a Tulsa police officer — did not justify the fatal shooting, attorneys representing his family said Tuesday. Crutcher had “acute phencyclidine intoxication” when he was shot dead last month by officer Betty Shelby, according to the results released by a medical examiner Tuesday.
The 40-year-old had 96 nanograms per milliliter of phencyclidine, commonly known as PCP, in his bloodstream, Dr. Matthew Lee, a physician and pharmacist who also works for the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office, said, according to the Associated Press (AP). That much amount of the drug is ample to cause a person to be uncoordinated, agitated and combative, Lee added.
Shelby shot Crutcher on Sep. 16 after his car broke down. According to her lawyers, she thought Crutcher was getting a weapon from his car, following which she shot him. She reportedly ordered him to stop walking, but Crutcher did not respond to her commands and kept his hands in pockets. The officer thought he may have been hiding a weapon in his pockets. However, later on, authorities did not find any weapon with Crutcher or in his car.
Crutcher family’s lawyers reportedly said — following the release of the toxicology reports — that the latest revelation “does not change the most pertinent facts of this tragedy” and that the officer “should be held accountable for her unlawful actions.”
According to Daniel Smolen, who is representing Crutcher’s widow, the presence of PCP in the deceased’s system did not justify the fatal shooting.
“Much will be made — by some — of the toxicology report,” Smolen said in a statement. “This presence of PCP is a distraction and utterly immaterial to the crucial issue.”
“Unfortunately, the use of illicit drugs is common in this country,” Smolen reportedly said. “Those, like Mr. Crutcher, who struggle with addiction should receive treatment, not a bullet in the chest.”
However, for Shannon McMurray — one of Shelby’s lawyers — the toxicology results gave an early “snapshot” of evidence in the case. He reportedly said that when more evidence is released, “it will be clear in my mind as the case unfolds that the officer was justified in her use of force.”
Crutcher’s shooting triggered protests in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where people accused police of racial profiling. Shelby, who is currently facing first-degree manslaughter charges for Crutcher’s death, has pleaded not guilty.