Update: A statement from Crutcher family attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons was added to this story after the print edition was printed.
Terence Crutcher had “acute phencyclidine intoxication” when Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby fatally shot him once in the upper right chest, the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Tuesday.
The autopsy report includes results of a toxicology analysis that showed that Crutcher, 40, had 96 nanograms per milliliter of phencyclidine, or PCP, in his bloodstream.
Authorities also tentatively identified tenocyclidine, a drug similar to PCP, in his system.
The bullet caused four of Crutcher’s ribs to fracture and did not exit his body, according to the autopsy report.
“The cause of death is penetrating gunshot wound of chest with musculoskeletal and visceral injuries. The manner of death is classified as homicide,” the report states.
Manners of death can be listed as natural, accidental, homicide or suicide.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that the use of PCP is “not compatible” with driving safely, as “severe impairment” of physical and mental abilities can occur after taking a single dose.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine calls PCP a “unique, paradoxical” drug that produces euphoric effects and says the drug has had a resurgence in popularity after a decline in the early 1990s.
Tulsa Police Department homicide Sgt. Dave Walker told the Tulsa World on Sept. 20 that officers found a vial of PCP when searching Crutcher’s SUV after his Sept. 16 death. He did not say at that time whether detectives had evidence indicating Crutcher had used the drug that day.
The autopsy also states that Crutcher had a prosthetic cap on his right eye, an issue Dan Smolen, an attorney for Frenchel Johnson, the mother of Crutcher’s children, has said may come up in a possible lawsuit alleging that Shelby violated the Americans with Disabilities Act during her fatal encounter with Crutcher.
Crutcher was pronounced dead at St. John Medical Center just before 8:20 p.m. Sept. 16 after being shot around 7:45 p.m. in the 2300 block of East 36th Street North. Shelby was en route to an unrelated call when she noticed that Crutcher’s SUV was stopped in the middle of the street just west of Lewis Avenue.
Video footage from a Tulsa Police Department helicopter shows three officers pointing either a gun or a Taser at Crutcher, who walked back to his vehicle with his hands clearly up.
One of Shelby’s defense attorneys, Scott Wood, has told the World previously that Crutcher appeared to be reaching into his vehicle through an open window when he was shot. Attorneys for the Crutcher family assert that he couldn’t have done so because the window was closed.
Crutcher family attorney Benjamin Crump said last month that the PCP police said they found in Crutcher’s vehicle shouldn’t be seen as cause for Shelby to fire her gun.
He said during a Sept. 20 news conference that “if we started to condemn everybody to death who might have some drugs in their system, all our neighborhoods would be affected.”
Damario Solomon-Simmons, another attorney for the Crutcher family, issued a statement Tuesday evening, saying that "today's toxicology report does not change the most pertinent facts of this tragedy: Officer Betty Shelby shot and killed Terence Crutcher who was, unarmed and had his hands up, without provocation or justification and she should be held accountable for her unlawful actions."
Bob Blakemore, another attorney for Johnson, said in a statement Tuesday that the toxicology finding “is a distraction and utterly immaterial to the crucial issue,” which is “was Officer Shelby justified in using deadly force on an unarmed man who posed no threat to any officer or citizen?” He said that “those, like Mr. Crutcher, who struggle with addiction should receive treatment, not a bullet in the chest.”
Officers Michael Richert and David Shelby, Betty Shelby’s husband, were in the helicopter and can be heard on the video discussing what Crutcher was doing below them. One of the officers, who Tulsa Police Sgt. Shane Tuell has said was not David Shelby, can be heard saying Crutcher “looks like a bad dude” who “could be on something” shortly before Betty Shelby shot him.
Wood has said Betty Shelby, who has undergone drug-recognition expert training, believed Crutcher was acting like a person who might be under the influence of PCP.
Audio from two 911 calls shows that two people called the police to report that Crutcher’s vehicle was blocking traffic in the middle of 36th Street North, with one caller reporting that the driver had left the vehicle running with the doors wide open. That caller also told the dispatcher that a man ran from the vehicle, saying he thought it might explode. “I think he’s smoking something,” the caller said of the man.
Shelby was not aware of those 911 calls at the time, police have said.
Defense attorney Shannon McMurray hosted a news conference Tuesday afternoon in which she said she is confident that evidence will show that Shelby’s actions were justified. She said Shelby is “coping and managing as best she can” while the case proceeds.
Shelby was charged Sept. 22 with first-degree manslaughter in Crutcher’s death, and a not-guilty plea was entered on her behalf on Sept. 30.
“It’s easy to stand back and armchair quarterback someone who’s in a situation such as Officer Shelby,” McMurray said of reactions to the case. “It is a totality of the circumstances, and from the moment she came into contact with Mr. Crutcher, she identified those things that would elevate not just an officer’s concern but anyone’s concern in how you would deal with a person who is high on any drug, but certainly PCP.”
Shelby is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 29 to receive a preliminary hearing date.
She was placed on unpaid administrative leave after being charged. She is also subject to a Tulsa Police Department Internal Affairs investigation into her handling of the incident.