Autopsy: Tulsa police victim was high on PCP when he died

FILE - In this Sept 27, 2106 file photo, people march in a "National Prayer and Call For Justice" march in Tulsa, Okla., in response to the police shooting of Terence Crutcher. Oklahoma's medical examiner says Crutcher, an unarmed man shot dead by a Tulsa police officer had the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his system when he died. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)


TULSA, Okla. (AP) — An unarmed black man shot dead by a white police officer after his car broke down on a city street last month was high on the hallucinogenic drug PCP in when he died, according to toxicology tests released by a medical examiner Tuesday.

Terence Crutcher, 40, had “acute phencyclidine intoxication” when he died Sept. 16. Officer Betty Jo Shelby was charged with first-degree manslaughter after his death, with a prosecutor saying she reacted unreasonably when Crutcher disobeyed her commands.

Medical literature says PCP, also known as Angel Dust, can induce euphoria and feelings of omnipotence as well as agitation, mania and depression.

Dr. Matthew Lee, a physician and pharmacist who also works for the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office, said the 96 nanograms per milliliter of PCP found in Crutcher’s system is more than enough to cause someone to be uncoordinated, agitated and combative.

“It’s on the high side, relative to causing some sort of impairment or intoxication,” Lee said.

Videos from a police helicopter and a dashboard camera showed Crutcher walking away from Shelby on a North Tulsa street with his arms in the air, but the footage does not offer a clear view of when Shelby fired the single shot.

Tulsa police had said previously that they had found a vial of PCP in Crutcher’s SUV — and the police officer’s lawyer said she had completed drug-recognition training and believed Crutcher might have been under the influence of drugs.

Lawyers for Crutcher’s family have said previously that even if drugs were present, the shooting wasn’t justified.

According to an eight-page report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Oklahoma City, Crutcher suffered a “penetrating gunshot wound of chest” and noted both of Crutcher’s lungs were pierced and that he had four broken ribs. In addition to saying Crutcher had PCP in his system, it said he was obese and had too much cholesterol in his gallbladder. The examiner recovered a bullet fragment from Crutcher’s left chest.

Shannon McMurray, one of Shelby’s defense attorneys, said the report helped provide an early “snapshot” of evidence in the case and that as more is released, “it will be clear in my mind as the case unfolds that the officer was justified in her use of force.” Another Shelby lawyer, Scott Wood, had said previously that the officer was so focused on Crutcher that she didn’t hear other officers near her before she fired her service weapon. Almost simultaneously, another officer fired a Taser at Crutcher as he moved toward his SUV.

In a text message to The Associated Press on Tuesday, Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said he expected the tests would show Crutcher had drugs in his system, including the possibility of PCP.

Shelby, 42, has pleaded not guilty. She faces between four years to life in prison if convicted.

Tulsa has a history of troubled race relations. Four months before Crutcher’s death, a white former Tulsa County reserve deputy, Robert Bates, was sentenced to a four-year prison term on a second-degree manslaughter conviction. He said he confused his stun gun with his handgun when he fatally shot an unarmed black man in April 2015. That shooting led to the temporary suspension of the reserve deputy program after a report found poor training of the volunteer officers, a lack of oversight and widespread cronyism.

___

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

WTNH NEWS8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Also, you can now block any inappropriate user by simple selecting the drop down menu on the right of any comment and selection "Block User" from there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s