Police say that Crutcher then failed to follow orders and reached into his car — leading officer Shelby to fire her weapon and officer Tyler Turnbough to use his Taser on Crutcher.
One possible explanation for the racial disparities: Police tend to patrol high-crime neighborhoods, which are disproportionately black.
A 2015 study by researcher Cody Ross found, "There is no relationship between county-level racial bias in police shootings and crime rates (even race-specific crime rates), meaning that the racial bias observed in police shootings in this data set is not explainable as a response to local-level crime rates." That suggests something else — such as, potentially, racial bias — is going on.
So in the Crutcher case, the question is whether the officers involved thought he reasonably posed an immediate threat to them or others — and what exactly Crutcher did to warrant that.
But, as Klinger said, "they basically say that the job of a cop is to protect people from violence, and if you’ve got a violent person who’s fleeing, you can shoot them to stop their flight." The key to both of the legal standards — defense of life and fleeing a violent felony — is that it doesn’t matter whether there is an actual threat when force is used.