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Two weeks ago a video went viral showing Tulsa Police Department (TPD) Officer Ronni Carrocia provoking, taunting, and bloodying a 70-year-old Black woman experiencing a mental health crisis in October. Now, one of the city’s most impactful civil rights leaders is calling for her termination.
On Wednesday evening, Dr. Tiffany Crutcher called on Mayor G.T. Bynum and Police Chief Wendell Franklin to fire Officer Carrocia in a letter sent via email and shared with The Black Wall Street Times.
“I’m writing today to call for the immediate termination of Tulsa Police Department Officer Ronni Carrocia for her behavior during the arrest of Phillips Theological Seminary student LaDonna Paris in October of 2021,” Dr. Crutcher stated.
Twin sister of Terence Crutcher, who was unarmed when former Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby murdered him in 2016, Dr. Tiffany Crutcher has since become a leader for justice and civil rights nationally and in the Tulsa community. She’s founder and executive director of the Terence Crutcher Foundation, which seeks to create just and liberated communities free from racial violence and harm.
Untrained officers respond to mental health crisis with taunts, tasers
According to video of the incident, LaDonna Paris was experiencing a mental health crisis when she locked herself in the bathroom of a business for several hours, EMSA medics later confirmed.
While the city of Tulsa has funded a single Community Response Team (CRT) of mental health professionals trained to respond to crisis calls, the city has so far refused to fund more than one unit. In a city of nearly 500,000, the CRT wasn’t able to respond, leaving untrained TPD officers to handle the situation.
“Ms. Paris was suffering before the arrest even took place, and by the end, she was desperate, confused, and bleeding from her face. Instead of providing or facilitating the care Ms. Paris needed, she was battered and treated like an animal,” Dr. Crutcher wrote to Mayor Bynum and Chief Franklin.
“As if this weren’t enough, Officer Carrocia took great joy in taunting Ms. Paris with a taser, saying, “this is gonna be so fun,” and “I love my job.”
Community seeks termination of TPD Officer Ronni Carrocia
Following outrage over the viral video, the community called for the city to fully fund CRT and for TPD to discipline Officer Carrocia.
According to sources inside the police department, this is not Officer Carrocia’s first time displaying similar actions. She has been reprimanded in the past for similar actions and was told by her direct report (supervisor) that she would be restricted from advancing in ranks for her actions.
When The Black Wall Street Times reached out to high-level sources within TPD weeks ago, we were told Officer Carrocia was placed on desk duty, though it’s unclear whether that action came before or after the video went viral. It’s also unclear whether that was her only discipline.
“If Officer Carrocia was simply “following TPD policy,” as you stated, Chief Franklin, then there is no doubt that these policies must change,” Dr. Crutcher added. “If this type of atrocious abuse is what makes Officer Carrocia “love her job,” then it is impossible to reason that she deserves to remain a part of what you both describe to be ‘the best police force in the country.”
Dr. Tiffany Crutcher calls out lack of mental health response
In the bodycam footage, Officer Root can be heard asking dispatch for a Community Response Team (CRT) multiple times because it was obvious that Paris was suffering from a mental health crisis.
Unfortunately, a CRT unit was not available to respond to the scene, which could have drastically altered the outcome. In fact, the Tulsa City Council voted against fully funding CRT last year, despite pleas from the community.
LaDonna Paris was eventually arrested and charged with five counts including attempted arson and assault and battery upon a police officer. Bond was set at $53,000 and Paris was held in county jail for nearly a month before having all charges against her dropped.
“If a mental health crisis is reason enough for our police officers to tackle an elderly woman to the ground, then we must create and fully fund better, robust, round-the-clock ways of responding to these crises,” Dr. Crutcher wrote to Mayor Bynum and Chief Franklin.
TPD Officer Carrocia “failed to uphold an oath to protect and serve”
In her statement, Dr. Crutcher brought up the names of Joshua Harvey and Joshua Barré, two Black men in Tulsa who died at the hands of Tulsa Police while experiencing mental health crises. Their families continue to seek justice.
“If you care about whether Tulsans, especially our neighbors with mental illness, place any credibility or trust in our police department, you will terminate Officer Carrocia immediately and will introduce clear, robust, and sustained budgeting for a 24/7 mental health response team in the upcoming FY23 budget,” Dr. Crutcher added.
TPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Black Wall Street Times has also reached out to the Mayor’s Office.
“The Mayor does not comment on letters from individuals who are actively involved in litigation against the City,” Mayor G.T. Bynum responded.
“Officer Carrocia failed to uphold an oath to protect and serve your constituents and this city failed to heed the call of Tulsans to provide the resources needed to protect Tulsans suffering mental health crises. We must do better. Tulsa demands better,” Dr. Crutcher stated.
Read Dr. Tiffany Crutcher’s full letter below: