To the surprise of many of my friends, Tulsa DA Steve Kunzweiler filed a first-degree manslaughter charge against Tulsa PD officer Betty Shelby on Thursday afternoon.
As a result, Kunzweiler should be praised for not punting like many national DAs — and the grand juries some of them called — before him.
Now, Oklahomans who are outraged by Shelby’s killing of unarmed Terence Crutcher must be vigilant in their support of the justice process, and they must be firm in their calls for a fair trial void of any sort of violence in protest.
By available accounts, Saturday’s Black Lives Matter Oklahoma rally struck the proper tone.
But the eyes of Oklahomans should also be on Charlotte, North Carolina, where protesters kneeled during the national anthem outside the Carolina Panthers’ football stadium Sunday in an effort to highlight an unfortunate irony: More Americans are exhilarated by the feats of black athletes than are outraged by the numerous deaths of black non-athletes at the hands of police.
Armed or unarmed in Charlotte?
While some of these deadly incidents are less controversial than others, Tulsa’s recent shooting involved a victim who police admit had no weapon.
In North Carolina, police said Keith Scott had a gun, but Scott’s wife — who videotaped the scene — has maintained that he did not have a gun.
Sadly, “dialogue” on the topic in Charlotte itself gave way to brutal violence, with one video of a white man being beaten in a parking garage leaving viewers appalled and shaking their heads.
Now, competing video analyzers on the internet are telling two separate tales: One in which police officers supposedly drop a gun on the scene, and a second in which officers supposedly drop glove packaging while one officer stands guard over a gun.
I personally saw the first of those videos Saturday and was convinced a gun had been planted. On Sunday, I saw the second video and changed my mind. In the end, however, I don’t think I can be sure either way at this moment owing to blurry video and competing voices on the topic.
The whole ordeal should be a cautionary tale for everyone, and particularly myself. Perhaps I should stick to begging people to stop killing each other. On the other hand, that didn’t seem to work the first time.
Here in Oklahoma, maybe I can just take momentary solace in the Tulsa DA doing his job and presenting the death of Terence Crutcher to a jury.
But North Carolina — and this perpetual issue at large — remains worth watching.
(Correction: This post was updated at 10:48 a.m. Monday, Sept. 26, to list the correct charge against Betty Shelby. We regret the error.)