Reverend Shawn Smith of Kansas City, friend of Terence Crutcher, is focused on unity

Posted at 7:41 PM, Sep 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-23 22:44:16-04

A Kansas City, Kansas, minister was friends with the man Terence Crutcher, the man fatally shot by a Tulsa police officer. 

Rev. Shawn Smith, Pastor of Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church in KCK, said he was friends with Terence Crutcher for 30 years. Smith called Crutcher his god-brother.

Because of Crutcher's death, Smith said he is more committed to find unity and build a bridge between police and the African-American community.

Smith raced to Tulsa to be with Crutcher's family when he heard and saw the news that Crutcher was dead. 

Watching the dashcam video and helicopter video of the last moments of his friend's life was painful. He said Crutcher's family is also hurting and leaning on their faith.

"They are Christian people," Smith said. "His parents are just so peaceful obviously hurt, but I think so much has happened just within this past week that they just haven't had the time to sit and absorb everything going on." 

The manslaughter charges against Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby are bringing comfort to the family.

"I'm very glad to see charges were brought. I talked to his dad last night and he's very happy as well," Smith said.

The KCK minister will be attending the funeral Saturday night in Tulsa.

"It's going to be a celebration. Terence was a strong Christian, always joyful, joking type guy, and I'm hoping that will be reflected in the service that we have [Saturday] night," Smith said.

When he returns, the pastor said he will be involved in trying to improve communication between police and the African-American community. 

"The mistrust that is between the police and the community will not go away overnight," he added.

Smith said he is encouraging members of his church to get to know police and participate in the Ride Along program so they can see what police have to face every day. He is also encouraging police to get to know members of the African-American community.

He said violent protests only diminish the message that peaceful protesters are trying to convey. He is pleased that demonstrations in Tulsa were peaceful, unlike protests in Charlotte, North Carolina, where an African-American man was also shot to death by a police officer.

"We need to listen to the people who are having these issues with law enforcement, and we need to listen to law enforcement," Smith concluded.

The KCK pastor said that he has been profiled and he is sometimes frustrated, but he said he refused to judge all police officers based on the actions of a few.



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