Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump offered rare criticism of the police on Wednesday, saying he was “very troubled” by the police shooting of an unarmed African-American man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this week.
“I’m a tremendous believer in the police and law enforcement because we need that for cities,” Trump said at an event in Cleveland, in response to a question about recent police shootings. “They’re great people. Now, great people, you always have problems. You have somebody in there that makes a mistake that’s bad, or that chokes.”
Trump then said he watched the video of Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby shooting Terence Crutcher, an unarmed 40-year-old black man who had his hands up as police confronted him.
“To me it looked like somebody who was doing what they asked him to do,” Trump said. “This young officer, I don’t know what she was thinking, but I’m very, very troubled by that. I’m very, very troubled by that.”
Trump’s comments drew applause during what was billed as a “Town Hall meeting on African-American concerns” at a Cleveland church. And he said the Tulsa incident wasn’t the only instance of a troubling police shooting.
“In my opinion that was a terrible situation, and we’ve seen others,” Trump continued. “The police are aware of that too. By the way, the police are troubled by it too.”
It’s surprising to hear Trump sympathize with the victims of police shootings, since he’s billed himself as the “law-and-order” candidate, criticized the Black Lives Matter movement and said “police are the most mistreated people in America.” The nation’s largest union of police officers ― The Fraternal Order of Police ― endorsed Trump last week.
Trump went on to speculate what Shelby might have been thinking when she shot Crutcher.
“Now did she get scared? Was she choking? What happened?” Trump said. “But maybe people like that, people that choke, people that do that, maybe they can’t be doing what they’re doing.”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
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