Update: Officer Betty Shelby Charged With Manslaughter After Killing Terence Crutcher

Update: Officer Betty Shelby Charged With Manslaughter After Killing Terence Crutcher

The moment he was shot was caught by both a helicopter and a dash cam.

Published September 20, 2016


Officer Betty Shelby, who shot and killed unarmed Terence Crutcher, has been charged with manslaughter, said prosecutors

A warrant has been issued for Shelby's arrest and authorities are working to bring her into custody.

In the affidavit, law enforcement stated the missteps that Shelby took in her handling of the situation. 

“Your affiant feels that Officer 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 held up, becoming emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted. Although Mr. Crutcher was wearing baggy clothes, Officer Shelby was not able to see any weapons or bulges indicating [a] weapon was present,” read the affidavit.

Bail for Shelby has been set at $50,000.

The Tulsa District Attorney spoke in a news conference regarding the manslaughter charge. During the conference, District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler mentioned the importance of due process.

“Despite the heightened tensions felt by all, which seemingly beg for an emotional response and reaction, our community has consistently demonstrated a willingness to respect the judicial process,” Kunzweiler said. 


On Monday, video footage that documented the shooting and killing of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, an unarmed Black with his arms raised, was released to the public. Around 7:40 p.m. on Friday night, Tulsa Officer Betty Shelby fired her weapon one time, which was enough to kill Crutcher.

The night began when Crutcher’s vehicle stalled in the middle of the road and Tulsa police received reports of an abandoned vehicle blocking the road.

Police officials said that when the officers interacted with Crutcher, he behaved erratically and refused to comply with their orders. However, both video from a dash cam and helicopter revealed that Crutcher had his hands raised high above his head and leaned against the car in a non-threatening position. He was shot no more than 30 seconds later.

During the interaction with Shelby and other officers, Crutcher was also Tasered by Officer Tyler Turnbough. When Shelby first arrived on the scene, she called for backup and claimed Crutcher was not cooperating. Turnbough then arrived on the scene with other officers.

In the helicopter, two officers looked down at the scene and could almost predict the exact moment the Taser would be used.  

“He’s got his hands up there for her now,” one officer in the helicopter said during the recording. “This guy is still walking and following commands.”

“Time for a Taser, I think,” a second officer in the helicopter can be heard saying.

“I got a feeling that’s about to happen,” said the first officer.

The first officer that spoke was later identified by Shelby’s lawyer, Scott Wood, as her husband, Officer Dave Shelby.

After an investigation was opened, Wood asserted that Shelby believed that Crutcher was armed and tried to put his hands in his pocket before he was shot. Neither video clearly shows what happened in the moment directly before the shooting; however, many contest the idea that he behaved dangerously.

The family of Terence Crutcher has viewed both videos and is prepared to take full legal action in the matter. They are also advising all protesters to remain peaceful. Benjamin L. Crump, a lawyer for the family, wants everyone to view this killing in the context of many unjust killings of unarmed Black people in America.

“This is an issue that is not unique to Tulsa, Oklahoma,” Mr. Crump said. “This is an issue that seems to be an epidemic happening all around America. What are we as an American society going to do about it?”

Attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons, another attorney for the family, believes the video has enough evidence to prove that Crutcher did not make any sudden movements nor did he attack the officers.

“When Terence was shot he laid on the ground bleeding out without any assistance,” Solomon-Simmons said.

Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said in a news conference that Betty Shelby has been placed on a paid administrative leave. The mayor of the city, Dewey F. Bartlett Jr., expressed his concern after this incident.

“This city will be transparent, this city will not cover up, this city will do exactly what is necessary to make sure that all rights are protected and to make sure that all rights shall be done,” Mr. Bartlett said.

Protests and peaceful demonstrations have already started to take place in Tulsa.

More information about this shooting will be added as the story updates.  

Written by Rachel Herron

(Photo: Tulsa County Inmate Information Center via AP)


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