Philando Castile. Eric Garner. And now Terence Crutcher. Each was a black man killed in a confrontation with an officer, with the aftermath captured on video. And each time, the video leaves the impression of a wounded man left to die alone, with no sense of urgency to try to save him, reports the Associated Press. Law enforcement experts say it’s not a sign of callousness, but of trying to ensure the officers and others are safe before approaching someone who could be armed or remain a threat even after they’ve been shot. Civil rights activists call it the ultimate indignity and one more example of indifference and quick-to-shoot attitudes of police toward minorities.
“When the police take actions that result in injury to you and then leave you on the ground to die, well, I think that’s a constitutional violation,” said Randolph M. McLaughlin, a New York civil rights attorney. In the latest case, Crutcher, 40, was killed by police after his vehicle stalled in Tulsa, Okla. A helicopter-mounted police camera recorded the shooting and aftermath. As Crutcher lies on the ground, officers stand nearby but provide no aid for a minute or two. That gap has stirred questions about why he was left in the street, motionless, unarmed and seemingly no threat. Law enforcement experts say that in those situations, police must determine whether there are other weapons nearby, whether other people might be in the vehicle and whether it is safe for police or EMTs to approach. All of that must be determined, they say, no matter how badly injured the wounded person might appear.