Tulsa Police Release Video Of Officer Fatally Shooting Unarmed Black Man
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Tulsa Police have released a video that raises more questions about the shooting of an unarmed black man. Terence Crutcher was dealing with car trouble when he encountered police who ultimately shot him. In the video he's seen lying in the road, bleeding for more than two minutes before police give first aid.
We're going to talk now about those two and a half minutes and whether police did what they were supposed to after they fired their weapons. David Klinger is a former police officer who's now professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Welcome back to the program.
DAVID KLINGER: Thanks for having me again.
SHAPIRO: Do police have an obligation to give medical aid at the scene after they have fired their weapons?
KLINGER: Yes and no. The general answer is yes, and the basic issue is that when the police have taken action where someone is injured, they need to ensure that medical aid is given in an expeditious fashion. Officers have to make sure that the situation is safe, then they should immediately move up in a safe fashion, immediately handcuff and go ahead and render that first aid. Now, it may not be the police themselves because in some situations there will be EMTs or medics who are nearby. So that's the yes part.
The no part is that there will be times and places where it's simply not safe to do so. So for example in a situation like the one in Dallas where the officers exchanged some gunfire with the suspect who then hunkered down and then they sent the robot in and there was an explosive device attached to that, it was simply not safe for the officers to attempt to do anything. So they had to wait for a while. So if it's not safe to do so, then the officers shouldn't move forward to render first aid.
SHAPIRO: What about in this case where the man who was shot did not have a visible weapon and it took two and a half minutes to administer first aid?
KLINGER: I saw absolutely nothing on that video that would indicate that there was any reason for the officers not to move in quickly, handcuff the suspect, search the suspect to make sure he didn't have any additional weapons and then render first aid. So I'm scratching my head.
SHAPIRO: Do you think training varies widely from one police department to another? Obviously there's no one federal standard here.
KLINGER: Yes, police training does in fact vary from place to place. But one of the things that I can tell you is that the federal government has been sponsoring something called the VALOR training program through the Bureau of Justice Assistance. And a very good friend of mine runs their self-aid, buddy-aid training.
And one of the very first things he says is - he says if you get involved in a shooting and a suspect is injured, when it is safe to do so, you need to - you have an affirmative obligation to provide first aid to that suspect with the skill set that we're giving you today.
SHAPIRO: Do police generally have the tools they need to administer first aid even if they do have the training?
KLINGER: It depends. I don't know that anybody has ever done any sort of research to assess the types of first aid equipment and training that police officers around the country have. But what I can tell you is that any agency that doesn't equip their officers with basic first aid kits and the appropriate training is way behind the curve.
SHAPIRO: Tulsa's clearly not the only place this has come up, but by looking at the Tulsa video, do you have any sense of what went wrong and why they didn't administer the first aid in the way that they should have?
KLINGER: I really don't. The only thing I can hypothesize perhaps is that they were shocked by what happened - that is, the officers who were immediately present. If you watch the video, there's a three-person team which I believe includes the officer who fired the fatal shot who are backing up together away from the suspect vehicle towards a squad car. That suggests to me that they weren't thinking in the proper mode. But that, as I say, is just a hypothesis.
SHAPIRO: David Klinger is a professor of criminology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Thanks for joining us.
KLINGER: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.