“I’m very, very troubled by that and we have to be very, very careful. So these things are terrible. That was, in my opinion, that was a terrible situation,” Trump said at the New Spirit Revival church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, this morning when asked for his reaction.
Forty-year-old Terence Crutcher was killed last Friday by police officer Betty Shelby. She is on paid leave pending an investigation of the shooting.
“As you know, I'm a tremendous supporter of the police and law enforcement because we need that for ourselves,” Trump said today. “We need that. And I've really gotten the endorsement from so many different groups. And they're great people. They're great people.”
But then Trump argued, “Great people, you always have problems. You have somebody in there that either makes a mistake, that's bad or that chokes.”
He went on to question Shelby’s actions: “Now did she get scared? Was she choking? What happened?”
“Maybe people like that, people that choke, people that do that maybe cannot be doing what they are doing,” Trump said. “So we all respect our police greatly and they will just have to get better and better and better.”
Trump told the audience of black pastors gathered at the Cleveland church that Crutcher appeared to put his hands up in videos of the incident released by the Tulsa Police Department Monday.
“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,” Trump said.
The videos in question show Crutcher walking with his hands up before the shooting, but it is not clear on the videos where his hands were at the moment the shooting occurred.
Trump added, “Maybe I'm a little clouded because I saw his family talking about him after the fact so you get a little bit you know different image maybe. But to me he looked like somebody who was doing what they were asking him to do.”
Shelby's lawyer, Scott Wood, told ABC News that Crutcher ignored more than two dozen commands before reaching into the open window of his car, prompting Shelby to shoot him as another responding officer simultaneously discharged his Taser. Wood said Shelby believed that Crutcher was acting like he was under the influence of PCP at the time. She also believed he was reaching into the car to retrieve a weapon, according to Wood. There was no gun on Crutcher or in his vehicle, police have confirmed.
Crutcher family attorney David Riggs said it is not yet known whether Crutcher was under the influence of drugs at the time of his death, but suggested that not everyone under the influence of a drug is a threat. He accused Shelby's defense team of just "throwing" the possibility of drug influence into the mix to imply that Crutcher caused his own death.
In a separate tweet, Trump also called the "situations" in Tulsa and Charlotte, where Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by police and whose death sparked protests last night, "tragic."