On Wednesday night, September 21, 2016, the Ida B. Wells Coalition Against Racism and Police Brutality in Kansas City reported that Donald Ebert, a police officer with the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department wrote on Facebook of Terence Crutcher: “Should have dropped the entitlement card and listened the first time. Good shoot.”
A Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer shot and killed Crutcher, an unarmed black man, as he walked toward his vehicle. The police claim Crutcher refused to follow directions and that the officer feared Crutcher was trying to get to a weapon in his car.
Ebert wrote his comment on a CBS News post, a comment still up mid-Thursday. After being criticized by another Facebook user, Ebert slammed people with “kiss the babies and poor me syndrome” who don’t blame Crutcher for the lethal actions of the officer. “No one wants to take responsibility for their own actions they rather blame everyone else.”
Letter to the KCPD
To the Kansas City Police Department:
I am writing this because black lives matter. And when I learned that one of your officers, Donald Ebert, praised the shooting of unarmed Terence Crutcher in Tulsa on social media, I was sickened. Ebert publicly declared that the death of Crutcher entailed a “good shoot” (good shot?) and that Crutcher held an “entitlement card,” or a feeling he didn’t need to follow police commands. The implication in all this, of course, is that Crutcher got exactly what he deserved.
Kansas Citians and people across the country will debate on whether the Tulsa officer shooting Crutcher was justified. But it would be nice if the people sworn to serve and protect Kansas City at least pretended like the death of a human being, regardless of circumstance, is a tragedy.
Even when a police officer is forced to kill someone who is trying to commit a senseless murder, it is a tragedy. Can we not be empathetic people? It’s a tragedy for the officer, who had to take a life and may suffer from PTSD as a result, as so many officers do. It’s a tragedy for the would-be-murderer’s family, for perhaps even he had a mother. Can we not ask caring questions, questions loved ones or friends might ask, like How did he get like this? What drove him to commit such evil acts? And it is a tragedy for the deceased, because though the officer was justified in his or her actions, the would-be-killer can never be redeemed, has no possibility to become the heartening story we all love to share on social media of someone on a troubled path who turned his life around and changed the world in a positive way. No, it may not usually happen. But at least when people live, when they live long enough to see justice in court or prison, there is a chance at being reborn.
And if that is heartbreaking, how much more so for people like Crutcher, an unarmed, nonviolent man with car trouble? Had Ebert shown sensitivity toward the loss of life and all the people it affected, I wouldn’t be writing this now. I believe that even people who disobey police commands or resist arrest have the right to life; Ebert clearly does not agree, but I believe as a thinking adult he is capable of expressing his opinion in a way respectful of the situation and respectful of the dead. Being flippant and praising the result is unacceptable.
KC needs officers that respect civilians. I request you fire this officer immediately.
Garrett S. Griffin