Tulsa, Oklahoma police officer Betty Shelby, who shot to death Terence Crutcher in 2016 will not face criminal charges.
According to CNN, the US Department of Justice announced on Friday (March 1) that there wasn’t enough evidence to “pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against” the officer.
Betty Shelby gunned down the 40-year-old reportedly out of fear even though he had his hands above his head. She was acquitted of manslaughter in May 2017 and resigned from the department in August of the same year.
In the Justice Department’s news release from Friday, “the federal review sought to determine whether Shelby violated federal law by willfully using unreasonable force against Crutcher."
Investigators ultimately determined there wasn't enough evidence to "prove beyond a reasonable doubt" that Shelby's use of force was "objectively unreasonable" under the Supreme Court definition. The release also claims investigators couldn’t find evidence to refute Shelby’s claim that she fired in self-defense believing that Crutcher was reaching into his vehicle to get a weapon.
Damario Solomon-Simmons, lawyer for Crutcher's family is reacting to the findings and news. "We're disappointed, but unfortunately we're not surprised," he said. "The system is set up to protect officers like Betty Shelby. The standard is so high, it's the highest standard in the legal system, to prove that someone willfully, intentionally violated someone else's civil rights."
The Tulsa officer responsible for shooting and killing Terence Crutcher has been booked at a county jail and released on bail. Officer Betty Shelby was charged with manslaughter after dash cam video and helicopter video revealed that Crutcher was unarmed and had his hands up at the time of the shooting.
Last week, Crutcher’s vehicle broke down in the middle of the road. When he was approached by Shelby, she called for additional officers to assist her with Crutcher. Although she felt as if his behavior was disorderly, prosecutors felt that she let her own bias negatively affect her decision making skills.
In an affidavit, prosecutors wrote that Shelby’s fear and personal judgment against Crutcher caused her to “react unreasonably.”
On Thursday, Tulsa District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler announced Shelby will face a manslaughter charge. Not long after, Shelby turned herself in and was booked at the Tulsa County Jail. Records indicate that she was booked at 1:11 a.m. and was released at 1:31 a.m. on a $50,000 bond.
The Mayor of Tulsa, Dewey Bartlett, is pleased with the amount of transparency the police department has provided by releasing the video footage.
"These are important steps to ensure that justice and accountability prevails," Bartlett said in a statement. "We will continue to be transparent to ensure that justice and accountability prevails."
Crutcher’s family views this as a step in the right direction; however, they believe more work needs to be done.
"This is a small victory," Crutcher's twin sister, Tiffany, said. "The chain breaks here. We're going to break the chains of police brutality. We know the history."
(Photo: Tulsa Police Department via AP)