Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that whatever the circumstances, “too many people are dead who shouldn’t be” from interactions between black Americans and police.
The Democratic presidential candidate opened a speech in Orlando on disability rights with remarks expressing regret over the “very upsetting” deaths of two men at the hands of police in recent days — one in Tulsa and the other in Charlotte.
Clinton sketched the basic details of each case.
“First, an unarmed man named Terence Crutcher was shot and killed by a police officer in Tulsa. Then, a man named Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by a police officer in Charlotte. I’m sending condolences and prayers to the families, and I know a lot of you are, too,” Clinton said.
“There’s still a lot we don’t know yet about what happened in both incidents. But we do know that we have two more names to add to a long list of African Americans killed by police officers,” Clinton said. “It’s unbearable, and it needs to become intolerable.”
“I know I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know anyone who does. This, though, is certain: Too many people are dead who shouldn’t be.”
Hours earlier, Clinton’s Republican opponent Donald Trump had said he was “very troubled” by the Tulsa case and adding that he believes police officers who overreact under pressure should not be entrusted with the responsibility.
It was a sudden departure for Trump from his forceful support for police officers, amid an intense national debate over discriminatory policing. In the past, he has criticized the Black Lives Matter movement for questioning police tactics. He has also made giving power “back to the police” a central campaign promise.
“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 — to me it looked like he did everything you’re supposed to do,” Trump said during a campaign event in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. “And he looked like a really good man. And maybe I’m a little clouded because I saw his family talking about him after the fact.”
“Did she get scared, was she choking? People that do that can’t be doing what they’re doing,” he added about Officer Betty Shelby, the white Tulsa police officer who fatally shot Crutcher.
Shelby, 42, has been a police officer since 2007.
Both Clinton and Trump are intensifying their outreach to black voters with fewer than 50 days until the election. Black voters support Clinton in overwhelming numbers, but Clinton has been making a stepped-up case for strong turnout in what she calls an especially consequential election for African Americans. She has called into two black-oriented radio shows over the past week with the message that Trump represents a throwback to bigotry. Trump, meanwhile, accused Clinton of caring about African Americans only at election time.
Clinton also spoke admiringly of many police: “We also saw the targeting of police officers in Philadelphia last week. And last night in Charlotte, 12 officers were injured in demonstrations following Keith Lamont Scott’s death.”
“Every day, police officers across the country are serving with extraordinary courage and honor and skill. We saw that again this weekend in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota,” Clinton said. “Our police handled those terrorist attacks exactly right. They likely saved a lot of lives.”
Trump has been extremely critical of President Obama for, in his view, failing to curtail retaliatory attacks against police officers. He said Obama “doesn’t have a clue” after the president spoke about a string of fatal shootings involving law enforcement and several police killings. Obama denounced police killings at the time and urged an end to “inflammatory rhetoric” on police violence.