Nonverbal Communication Analysis №3699: The Tulsa Police and the Shooting Death of Terence Crutcher — Body Language and Emotional Intelligence (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
Last Friday in Oklahoma the Tulsa Police shot Terence Crutcher. Mr. Crutcher’s SUV had broke down. The police were called regarding an abandoned vehicle. Mr. Crutcher was unarmed and there was no weapon found in the vehicle. An investigation is ongoing.
Law enforcement protocol dictates that once a suspect has been shot, tasered, etc., and the scene is secure, the police (or other professionals whom they designate) are to immediately render first aid. In this example, approximately 2 minutes 32 seconds transpired between the shooting and care.
Note the three officers are slowly backing up clustered in close proximity to each other (touching) — making a themselves an easy target had there been any armed opposition. They were neither securing the area nor rendering medical care.
You’re probably familiar with the saying, “Flight, Fight or Freeze” describing the ways human beings behave when there’s a perceived severe threat — and in this scenario we’ve seen a form of each. The police first fought, their brains (temporarily) froze — and then they took flight (retreated).
This is a textbook example of how, when we’re far from emotional baseline (the calm ‘normal’ self), our objectivity — even if we’re trained professionals — often goes out the window. And while there is a multitude of nonverbal signals contained in this video, this particular one is a body language manifestation of emotional processing (indeed emotional shock) — for although the officers’ intellects realizes what’s occurred, their emotional brains are still trying to come to terms with the events.
This post and the associated website serve as reference sources for the art and science of Body Language/Nonverbal Communication. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author. In an effort to be both practical and academic, many examples from/of varied cultures, politicians, professional athletes, legal cases, public figures, etc., are cited in order to teach and illustrate both the interpretation of others’ body language as well as the projection of one’s own nonverbal skills in many different contexts — not to advance any political, religious or other agenda.