Date: September 16, 2016
Officer: Betty Jo Shelby
Charged: Yes, felony manslaughter, found not guilty
Terence Crutcher was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on September 16, 2016, when his SUV stalled in the middle of the road. He got out of the car and a witness called 911 because he was warning that it was going to blow up. The witness told the dispatcher that the car was still running and thought Crutcher was smoking something. Officer Betty Jo Shelby and her partner reported to the scene, and she claims that Crutcher wasn’t responding to commands to put his hands up. When Crutcher walked back to his car, he reached into his driver’s side window which was rolled down. Before he was able to take his hands out, Shelby fired her gun while her partner deployed his taser, fearing that Crutcher had a gun. He was struck in the lung, and the officers waited two minutes before performing CPR on him. Crutcher died at the hospital later that day. Toxicology reports suggest he was on two hallucinogenic drugs, one of which was PCP. He was 40 years old.
Officer Shelby was arrested shortly after officials released the dashcam footage showing Terence Crutcher with his hands up walking towards the car. She was charged with felony manslaughter. During the trial, the Tulsa County Assistant District Attorney asked Shelby, “Is Terence Crutcher’s death his fault?” She responded, “Yes.” The jury acquitted her on all charges, but they questioned her decision to use a gun instead of a taser in an open letter to the media. Shelby returned to work, but was assigned to an administrative position. She resigned from the Tulsa Police Department.
One month after resigning, she was sworn in in Rogers County as a reserve deputy. She’s now teaching other officers “how to survive such events.” Although she stated she wouldn’t talk about the shooting death of Terence Crutcher, she focuses on the physical, emotional, financial, and legal challenges resulting from such incidents. There have been concerns about her teaching a paid instructional course, especially on the 65th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's “I Have a Dream” speech in which he states, “We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutalities.”
Bailey, C. (2017, May 20). Fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher was 'tragic' but justified: Jury foreman. Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/terence-crutcher-shooting-tulsa-police-was-tragic-justified-jury-foreman-n762566
Ellis, A. (2018, May 17). Rogers County Sheriff's Deputy Betty Shelby responds to protests. Retrieved from https://ktul.com/news/local/rogers-county-sheriffs-deputy-betty-shelby-responds-to-protests
Karimi, F. (2017, May 18). Tulsa officer acquitted in fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2017/05/17/us/tulsa-police-shooting-trial/index.html
Stanley-Becker, I. (2018, August 28). She fatally shot an unarmed black man. Now she's teaching other police officers how to 'survive' such incidents. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/08/28/she-fatally-shot-an-unarmed-black-man-now-shes-teaching-other-cops-how-to-survive-such-incidents/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.cc603a0f3748