Tulsa Is Very Good at Killing Black People

That's Angelo Estes, Jr. holding a sign that reads, "Don't shoot." His hands are up, as you can see. What you can't see is that the 8 year-old is sitting on his father's shoulders as his family protests the murder by police of another unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

You might remember Tulsa as the city where, just last year, a black man, Eric Harris, was shot and killed by a police officer. When Harris said he couldn't breathe, instead of getting help, a cop said, "Fuck your breath." An extraordinary thing happened then: the cop who murdered Harris was sent to prison for manslaughter. 

You might remember Tulsa as the city where, in 1921, the white residents rioted and burned down Greenwood, the neighborhood where black Tulsans lived and had businesses. The cause was that a black man had touched a white woman and the whites weren't allowed to lynch the black man. 300 people were killed. An extraordinary thing happened then: no one was charged for rioting. No one went to jail for it. 

Tulsa, it seems, is very, very good at murdering black people.

Look, as always, most of us looking in from the outside are not cops. But let's say for the sake of argument that victim Terence Crutcher was doing everything that police officer Betty Shelby said he was doing. Let's say that he was standing in the middle of the road, acting oddly. Let's say he didn't listen to Shelby's commands, even as he stood with his hands up. Let's say he reached into the driver's side window (although Crutcher's family's attorney says blood on the window shows it was closed). Let's even say he was on PCP. 

So while, yeah, most of us will never face this situation, most of us haven't gone through training that is supposed to prepare us for it. See, this is where failures in training hit head-on into reality. Because even with all those circumstances, at no time was the Crutcher a threat to anyone other than Shelby, who was holding a gun on him. And even then he never did anything overtly threatening, by her own admission. She was scared, by her own admission. What she should have done is backed off and waited for back-up, which was arriving. What she should have done is not panicked, like so many other cops before her did in similar circumstances. But Shelby was supposedly a "drug recognition expert." So she should have known that reasoning with someone on PCP was not going to go smoothly. (Although the PCP allegation is unproven at this point.)

That's the most frustrating part of so many incidents of cops killing unarmed African Americans. The person simply wasn't a threat other than to the cops who were escalating the whole encounter into something deadly. It's the bloodstained version of cops getting a suspect to resist arrest just so they can trump up a charge. What happens if you don't point your gun at the obviously unarmed person who poses no danger? 

Young Angelo up there is learning an important lesson: that it continues to be a nation where putting your hands up doesn't guarantee that you won't be shot.  Hell, at this point, being a child carried by his father doesn't guarantee it.