Fourth Estate Staff
Tulsa, OK, United States (4E) – A Tulsa Oklahoma police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man last year and this week, she was acquitted of the first-degree manslaughter charge.
Jury deliberations lasted for nine hours and they did not find Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby guilty in the death of Terence Crutcher, 40. The shooting took place on September 16 after Crutcher suddenly stopped his car in the middle of the street.
A video showing the shooting prompted another wave of criticism against the force. In the video made public, Crutcher was seen walking away from Shelby toward his vehicle and had his hands above his head. Shelby proceeded to shoot Crutcher. She and her lawyers claimed that the officer fired her weapon due to fear and after Crutcher failed to lie on the ground despite her orders.
Crutcher also appeared to be reaching inside his vehicle and she thought that he was trying to get a gun. Officers did not find any weapon inside the SUV. Shelby added she believed Crutcher was under the influence of the powerful hallucinogenic known as Angel Dust.
Prosecutors said Shelby overreacted because Crutcher had his hands up in the air and was not combative at all. Per the autopsy, Crutcher had PCP in his system and that they found a vial of it in his SUV.
Her defense attorney, Shannon McMurray, noted that prosecutors rushed to charge her for fear of unrest due to the other police-related shootings involving African-Americans. McMurray said she was elated Shelby was not found guilty and that her client is ready to get back to her life.
After Shelby was acquitted, the father of Terence, Rev. Joey Crutcher, said in a statement, “Let it be known that I believe in my heart that Betty Shelby got away with murder.” Demonstrators also gathered outside the courtroom. The organizer of a local civil rights group, We The People Oklahoma, said, “When is it going to stop – just officer-related shootings? When will the police change policy.”
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