Tulsa Officer Charged with Manslaughter
The Tulsa officer, Betty Shelby, involved in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher turned herself in this morning at around 1 a.m., where she was booked into the Tulsa County Jail. She was released 20 minutes later on a $50,000 bond. She has been charged with 1st Degree Manslaughter.
The charges say that Officer Betty Shelby became emotionally involved in the confrontation with Terence Crutcher, and over-reacted by killing him. The affidavit states that she did not see any “weapons or bulges indicating that a weapon was present.”
Shelby and another officer were on their way to a domestic violence call when she saw Crutcher standing in the middle of the road looking down. Because she was on her way to another call, she didn’t stop to check on him. Then she encountered Crutcher’s SUV in the middle of the roadway blocking both directions of traffic with the engine running.
A 911 call had been put in about the SUV with its door open and someone running away from it saying it was going to blow up.
If the vehicle had been broken down, would the engine still be running?
Her side of the story, according to ABC Tulsa:[Shelby’s attorney Scott] Wood said “it’s important to remember” that Shelby was on the scene with Crutcher for about a minute and a half before the start of the video clip released by police on Monday.
When Shelby approached the car, the doors were closed, and the windows were open, Wood said. She looked into the passenger’s side to make sure no one was on the floor of the car, and as she was getting ready to move to the driver’s side, she turned around and saw Crutcher walking toward her, Wood said.
Wood said that Shelby then said to Crutcher, “Hey, is this your car?”
Crutcher didn’t respond, simply dropping his head while continuing to look at Shelby, “kind of under his brow,” Wood said. Crutcher then began to put his hand into his left pocket, Wood said, adding that Shelby told Crutcher, “Hey, please keep your hands out of your pocket while you’re talking to me. Let’s deal with his car.”
Crutcher did not respond, Wood said, so Shelby ordered him again to get his hand out of his pocket. He then pulled his hand away and put his hands up in the air, even though he was not instructed to do so, which Shelby found strange, Wood said.
Shelby tried to get Crutcher to talk to her, but he simply mumbled something unintelligible and stared at her, Wood said. He then turned and walked to the edge of the roadway and turned to look at her, his hands still in the air, Wood said. He put his hands down and started to reach into his pocket again, Wood said, and she ordered him again to get his hands out of his pocket.
At this point, Shelby, a drug recognition expert, believed Crutcher was “on something,” Wood said, possibly PCP.
Shelby then radioed in that she had a subject “who is not following commands.”
“You can kind of hear a degree of stress in her voice when she says that,” Wood said.
The video from the incident does not have an audio, so none of the verbal exchange can be heard. According to her attorney, Shelby was scared for her life, especially since Crutcher repeatedly ignored her commands to stop.
Shelby was a “drug recognition expert.” She knew the signs of PCP use, and likely there was something in his behavior that was flagging her to think he may have been on some sort of drug. Refusal to answer her or speak to her were signs to her that something was amiss.
She is now charged with a felony after 11 years on the job. Maybe she screwed up, maybe she had reason. But her career is ruined forever, regardless of how his turns out.