OKLAHOMA CITY – In response to reports which indicate Terence Crutcher tested positive for PCP in his system at the time of his unjustified killing at the hands of the Tulsa Police Department, the ACLU of Oklahoma released the following statement:
Please attribute to Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director:
Initial reports that Terence Crutcher had PCP in his system are completely irrelevant to the question “should Terence Crutcher be alive today?” These findings are the product of weeks long testing and examination by medical professionals. To say that anyone on that scene could have drawn this conclusion or that such a conclusion would justify lethal force is utterly ridiculous and disingenuous. Drug possession and drug use do not now, nor should they ever, justify summary execution.
No doubt there will be those who will seize upon this news to justify the killing of Terence Crutcher. Make no mistake about it–those who would attempt to justify his killing on the basis of this finding are engaging in the sort of behavior that dehumanized Terence Crutcher; behavior that ultimately led to his death on the streets of Tulsa and instills genuine fear in the hearts of people of color across our nation.
Even though it is irrelevant to the use of lethal force, it is worth noting that these findings do not tell us whether or not Terence Crutcher was under the influence of PCP at the time of this encounter. Testing positive to a substance in your system is very different than being under the influence of a substance, though again neither justify the government gunning someone down in the street.
We encourage the public, the media, and law enforcement to resist the temptation to seize upon this all too convenient practice of character assassination in an attempt to divert attention away from meaningful responses to the systematic violence and dehumanization that is far too common in interactions between law enforcement and communities of color.
These findings in no way change the tragic fact that Terence Crutcher should be alive and with his family today.