In what seems like a terrible kind of dejavu, America is once again struggling through the aftermath of officer involved shootings. This time it is Tulsa and Charlotte that are getting the unwanted attention. As would be expected, the presidential candidates are weighing in.
Yet Trump has, until now, been steadfast in his support of the police in these situations. Yet comments he made on Wednesday have angered many of his constituents, and riled police officers.
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The comments came as Donald Trump spoke at the church of Pastor Darrell Scott. Trump said he was “very troubled” by the fatal police shooting of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma last week. He went on to criticize the officer involved and said she “got scared” or was “choking.”
Trump began his response by predictably praising police. He’s been endorsed by many law enforcement groups. Yet he then noted that “you always have problems.”
“You have somebody in there that always makes a mistake, that’s bad or that chokes,” Trump said.
Trump has not yet addressed Tuesday’s shooting in Charlotte of Keith Lamont Scott. There are two versions of that shooting. Police content that Scott was armed with a handgun. His family says he was holding a book.
Trump’s comments about Terence Crutcher were prefaced by his narration of the video of the incident. “I must tell you, I watched the shooting in particular in Tulsa and that man was hands up, that man went to the car — hands up — put his hand on the car. To me, it looked like he did everything you’re supposed to do,” Trump said. “And he looked like a really good man — and maybe I’m a little clouded because I saw his family talking about him after the fact … but he looked like somebody who was doing what they were asking him to do.”
“This young officer, I don’t know what she was thinking. I don’t know what she was thinking, but I’m very, very troubled by that and we have to be very careful,” Trump said. Betty Shelby, 42, is the officer he’s referring to.
“Did she get scared? Was she choking? What happened? But people that choke, maybe they can’t be doing what they’re doing,” he said.
Until this point, Trump’s view on these shootings was more ambiguous. Trump tweeted this on Wednesday: “The situations in Tulsa and Charlotte are tragic. We must come together to make America safe again.” Many of his supporters took this to mean that the rioting had to stop. Now, his most ardent supporters are so sure.