The police officer who fired the shot that killed an unarmed black man last week in Oklahoma may have feared for her life because of concerns the victim was on drugs, according to a new report. The defense lawyer for Tulsa Officer Betty Shelby said she thought Terence Crutcher was exhibiting signs of being on PCP, a hallucinogenic drug that police said Tuesday was found in his car.
"He never makes any response to her," defense attorney Scott Wood told Tulsa World. "He has his hands up and is facing the car and looks at Shelby, and his left hand goes through the car window, and that’s when she fired her shot."
The disclosure contradicts the claims by Crutcher's family attorney, who said the shooting victim was immediately a suspect after police were notified via a 911 call about a "vehicle running in the middle of the street" that was obstructing traffic, according to CNN.
"They treated him like a criminal," Benjamin Crump -- the attorney who represented the family of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager who was killed in 2012 by a neighborhood watch volunteer who was ultimately acquitted of murder charges -- told MSNBC. "They treated him like a suspect. They did not treat him like somebody in distress who needed help. Instead of giving him a hand, they gave him bullets."
It was not immediately clear whether there was any trace of drugs in Crutcher's system or if he used any drugs the day he was shot. Police declined to say where in the car they said they found the PCP.
"Let us not be thrown a red herring and to say because something was found in the car that is justification to shoot him," said Crump.
The entire episode was captured on video footage shot from both a dashboard from a police cruiser on the scene as well as a camera that was rolling from a helicopter hovering above. Crutcher could be seen walking from the police with his arms raised before he was shot. An officer in the helicopter can be heard saying prior to the shooting that Crutcher looked like "a big, bad dude."
After Crutcher was shot, it was determined that he was not armed with a gun as police had originally suspected.
A protest was planned for Tuesday night in Tulsa to call for the arrest of Shelby', who thus far has eluded any criminal charges stemming from the shooting.