Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby has been found not guilty of first-degree manslaughter after she was accused of fatally shooting 40-year-old Terence Crutcher last September.
Shelby shot and killed Crutcher, an unarmed black man, on September 16, 2016. She was responding to a report of a broken down car in the middle of the road. Shelby, 43, shot and killed Crutcher, 40, with a single shot.
The trial began in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, earlier this month. The jury, made up of three men and nine women, including two black women and a black man, deliberated for about nine hours before finding Shelby not guilty of all charges.
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The investigator wrote that Shelby, “reacted unreasonably by escalating the situation from a confrontation with Mr. Crutcher, who was not responding to verbal commands and was walking away from her with his hands up, becoming emotionally involved to the point that she over reacted. Although Mr. Crutcher was wearing baggy clothes, Officer Shelby was not able to see any weapons or bulges indicating and [sic] weapon was present.”
Crutcher’s father and sister expressed disbelief with the jury’s decision outside the courtroom.
This is definitely a tough pill to swallow. The facts were there. All the elements of manslaughter were there. Terence’s hands were up. Terence was not an imminent threat. Terence did not attack her. Terence did not charge at her. Terence was not the aggressor. Betty Shelby was the aggressor. Betty shelby had the gun. betty shelby was following him with the gun. Betty Shelby murdered my brother. And after she murdered by brother all of the officers involved with the Tulsa Police Department tried to cover for her. A coverup was exposed. They walked by my brother to go check on Betty Jo and the last few breaths of his life he laid their alone. And these are officers who are paid to serve and protect us. Trained to deal with people who are supposedly intoxicated or inebriated. But yet you use deadly force. No weapon was found. Terence had just left school. Terence had just left Tulsa Community College because he wanted to do something with his life. And I just thank God that he doesn’t judge us as our sins deserve. I’m going to make sure that I don’t rest until we get reform for this police department in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and until we change the culture.
A civil case is expected against Shelby, the city of Tulsa and its police department.
“The list just goes on and on of unarmed black men getting killed by white police officers and they get away with it,” attorney Benjamin Crump, who represents the family, told reporters. “I thought that Tulsa would be the example that said all American citizens are granted their due process of the law and it does not matter if you are a young African-American man. Unfortunately, I was wrong.”
You can watch the dashcam video released by police by clicking here. The footage is graphic. The shooting occurs around the 1:40 mark.
In the video, you can see Terence Crutcher walking toward his SUV with his arms held in the air, as Officer Betty Shelby follows behind him with her gun drawn and a second officer approaches with his Taser drawn. He has his back to her and the other officer. Crutcher appears to lean toward the SUV with Shelby at his side and the other officer behind him. A single shot can then be heard and other officers run toward the SUV.
Crutcher then collapses to the ground and Shelby yells into the radio, “Shots fired!”