Before being tasered and shot by police, a law enforcement official referred to Terence Crutcher as a "bad dude." That officer was overlooking Crutcher and his stalled vehicle on the Tulsa, Oklahoma, highway, and was evidently able to determine — despite being suspended hundreds of feet in the air inside of a police department helicopter — that the unarmed black man was a "bad dude." But this type of language isn't specific to the Tulsa Police Department. In fact, perhaps that officer was merely parroting a sentiment from presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has on multiple occasions used that exact language, calling everyone from protesters to undocumented immigrants "bad dudes."
Trump first used the "bad dude" argument as a justification for keeping the Guantanamo Bay detention facility open, telling supporters at a February 2016 rally that his administration would "load it up with some bad dudes, believe me. We're going to load it up." In the same month, President Obama referred to Guantanamo as "a stain on our broader record of upholding the highest standards of rule of law" when discussing plans to close the center with Congress.
The GOP nominee again implemented the "bad dude" line of defense during a March 2016 debate when asked to address the violence at his rallies. During the debate, CNN moderator Jake Tapper noted that Trump has egged on his supporters, frequently telling them to "knock the crap" out of the protesters that attend his rallies.
But Trump was ready to defend his supporters' repeated use of violence, saying "We have some protesters who are bad dudes, they have done bad things. They are swinging, they are really dangerous and they get in there and start hitting people. And we had a couple big, strong, powerful guys doing damage to people..."
Tellingly, Trump concluded: "It's wrong to beat up protesters, unless of course they're bad dudes."
Despite facing some backlash for those comments, Trump is rarely one to back down from his language, and of course wasn't done with the "bad dude" rhetoric. As recently as August, he told CNN's Anderson Cooper that his first day as president would be devoted to rounding up all of these supposed "bad dudes."
He explained to Cooper: "My first day in office, I am going to notify law enforcement authorities that all of the bad dudes, and we have a lot of them, that are here illegally, that are the heads of gangs, and drug cartels, and all sorts of people. They're out!"
We've seen time and time again that Trump's rhetoric has infiltrated multiple facets of everyday American life, from our schools to the way we go about our errands. Though it may have just been a coincidence, it's also possible that the officer in the helicopter adopted this "bad dude" language from Trump himself. In fact, the Fraternal Order of Police, the largest police union in the country, just endorsed Trump for president.
So what does a "bad dude" look like to Trump? Probably a lot like Crutcher.