JUSTICE

White Cop Acquitted In Terence Crutcher’s Fatal Shooting

'I believe in my heart that Betty Shelby got away with murder,' Terence Crutcher's father said after Shelby was found not guilty.

JUSTICE
REUTERS
May 18, 2017 at 3:33 PM ET

A white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last year was found not guilty of first-degree manslaughter on Wednesday night.

After a jury deliberated for nine hours, Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby was acquitted in the September 2016 death of Terence Crutcher. Soon thereafter, Crutcher’s sister, Tiffany, offered a statement for the family, saying that Tulsa Police tried to cover up her brother’s murder, according to the Tulsa World. Crutcher’s father, Joseph, was equally upset with the verdict.

“Let it be known that I believe in my heart that Betty Shelby got away with murder,” he told CNN. “I have four grandchildren that are at home now, that have lost their daddy.”

On Sept. 16, 2016, Shelby came across an SUV stopped in the middle of a road and a man walking around it. In helicopter and dashcam videos of the incident, several officers approached the scene as Crutcher put his hands behind his head and walked away from officers and toward his car. The videos are partially obscured, but Crutcher appeared to reach into the car, at which point one officer shocked him with a Taser. The other, Shelby, shot him.

Shelby would later say she suspected Crutcher was high and reaching into the car for a weapon, leaving her with no choice but to shoot him. No gun was found on Crutcher or in the car, but PCP was found in his system.

In April, Shelby told “60 Minutes” that Crutcher displayed “zombie-like” behavior when she first encountered him. She admitted that while he wasn’t aggressive at the time, he later refused to comply with her and other officers’ commands to get on his knees.

“I saw a threat and I used the force I felt necessary to stop a threat,” Shelby said at the time. “I have sorrow that this happened, that this man lost his life. But he caused the situation to occur. So in the end, he caused his own.”

The Crutcher verdict is the latest example of how difficult it is for a police officer to be charged, and convicted, for shooting and killing black men under questionable circumstances. Of the recent high-profile cases, only one — Michael Slager — is currently facing jail time after pleading guilty to federal charges. (His state murder trial ended in a hung jury). In April 2015, Slager shot Walter Scott in the back as Scott ran away, which was captured on video by a bystander.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin offered a plea to Oklahomans to remain civil and respectful of the verdict.

“Those who disagree with the verdict have the right to express their opinions. I just ask that they do so in a peaceful manner,” Fallin said in a statement. “I appeal to Tulsans and others to remain calm. Our thoughts and prayers should be with the Terence Crutcher and Betty Shelby families during this difficult time.”