By: Riley Head ~Staff Writer~
Officer Betty Shelby of the Tulsa, Okla., police force was charged with first degree manslaughter in the shooting of Terence Crutcher.
Crutcher was stopped outside his SUV by Shelby while she was responding to a domestic violence call. Shelby’s attorney has said she stopped because she believed his car was broken down, and he was in need of assistance.
Standing by his stopped SUV with his hands in the air on the night of Sept. 16, Crutcher was shot by Shelby. One officer then fired at Crutcher with a stun gun and Shelby shot him again through his lung.
Officers claimed Crutcher was not complying with Shelby’s request asking him to take his hands out of his pockets while he was being approached.
The official police reports claim that Crutcher was reaching inside his driver-side window, presumably for a gun.
Other Tulsa police officers reported there was no gun on Crutcher’s person or anywhere in his car.
A written statement from the chief investigator for the district attorney’s office stated 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.”
So far in 2016, police have killed 194 African Americans. Several have gone to trial, but none have faced jail time.
The shooting was recorded on an officer’s dash camera and a helicopter circling the area above. The recordings have shown a difference between Shelby’s story and what evidence suggests. One difference is whether or not the SUV window was closed or open.
The Crutcher family and their representation are claiming that the driver’s side window was rolled up at the time of the shooting.
Footage from the helicopter shows a trail of blood down the closed window of the SUV. This information is still being analyzed by the U.S. Department of Justice and state authorities. The Department of Justice has decided to open its own investigation regarding civil rights.
Crutcher’s shooting came only four days before the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, an unarmed Black man, in Charlotte, N.C.