TULSA, Okla. — On the three-year anniversary of Terence Crutcher’s death, his sister relives the promise she made September 16, 2016.
Dr. Tiffany Crutcher’s life mission is police reform. She wants to make sure what happened to her brother does not happen again.
Terence Crutcher was shot and killed by a then Tulsa police officer.
That evening, Dr. Crutcher was waiting to have dinner with a friend when she got an unexpected call from a cousin.
"She didn't sound right, and she asked me if I had called home. I said, 'Not in a few days.' She said, 'I think you should.' She paused, and I said, 'Why?' She didn't say anything. I asked her to spit it out. She said, 'It's about Terence.' I said, 'Spit it out.' She said, 'I heard he's been shot and that he's dead.'
After that, Dr. Crutcher says she went numb.
"I was in shock. I was in shock, especially when they told me it was the police."
Crutcher was shot and killed by then Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby.
A toxicology report revealed Crutcher had two hallucinogenic drugs in his system, including PCP -- which was also found in his vehicle.
Crutcher was unarmed during the incident.
When the shock wore off, Dr. Crutcher says her mind went to Florida, Ohio, and Missouri.
"I was very empathetic to Sabrina, Trayvon Martin's mom, and Michael Brown's mom, Leslie, who are now good friends of mine, and Tamir Rice's mom. We would often talk about these injustices, but I never thought my family would be on the other side going through the same thing."
Terrance Crutcher turned 40, a month before his death, and was ready for what the next 40 years would bring.
"He was excited and he told me that he was going to make me proud. He said, 'God is going to get the glory out of my life.'"
Those words are now inscribed on the plaque where he lies.
Officer Shelby was acquitted, the following year in Crutcher’s death.
Dr. Crutcher says, “That verdict was like another shot fired, for me."
It took the jury nine hours to find Shelby not guilty of manslaughter.
"After hour number three, and then hour number five, and we were waiting, and then hour number six. I said, 'Somebody is back there fighting,' and the verdict was in at the ninth hour. I was very hopeful."
That night, Dr. Crutcher made a promise she says she still carries today.
"I made a vow that I would not rest until I reform Tulsa's police department, until we transform it into a police department that protects and serves.”
Dr. Crutcher says one recent step forward is the public meetings the city of Tulsa now hosts. Those meetings focus on racial and gender gaps in police arrests and use of force.
That change comes after the city's 2018 Equality Indicators report showed African American Tulsans were five times more likely to be victims of officer use of force than other races or ethnicities.
"That's a small step in the right direction, in itself, the fact that we're having the mere conversation. But, ever since Terence passed away, we haven't seen anything that would change that from happening again."
Dr. Crutcher says her family has a negligence lawsuit pending against the city of Tulsa for what happened that night.