Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby was charged with manslaughter after the dashcam and helicopter video of Terence Crutcher’s shooting was shown to the court. 

Police stated that Crutcher did not have a gun on him or in the vehicle at the time of the shooting. The videos show Crutcher walking with his hands up, away from Shelby. The moment of the single shot was not recorded, but according to witness reports the man had reached for the SUV window before getting murdered by the police officer. The charges are filed a week after Shelby shot 40-year-old Crutcher as he lingered in the middle of the road with a parked vehicle, blocking both lanes.

Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby
Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby. Image credit: City of Tulsa Police Department.

Officer Shelby ‘was in fear of her life’

Officer Shelby was responding to a domestic call when she spotted Crutcher wandering around his SUV while blocking traffic. He appeared to be mumbling to himself and not able to answer questions or obey commands.

Crutcher consistently looked for something in his pockets until he raised his hands up in the air. Shelby pointed at Crutcher with her gun until Officer Tyler Turnbough approached the scene wielding a stun gun.

Immediately, Crutcher leaped to his vehicle’s window to which Shelby reacted and shot him in the back, puncturing his lung and killing him in the process.

Terence Crutcher
Terence Crutcher. Image credit: Facebook/Terence Crutcher.

“Officer Shelby made statements that she was in fear of her life and thought that Mr. Crutcher was going to kill her. When she began following Mr. Crutcher to the vehicle with her duty weapon drawn, she was yelling for him to stop and get on his knees repeatedly,” reads the incident police report.

People suggest that Crutcher was high on PCP, which was then confirmed by Tulsa Police Sergeant David Walker. The fact that Crutcher was on drugs could have led Shelby to feel in danger, but without a lethal weapon or coherent life threat, there was no precedent to shooting an unarmed person, even if it was intoxicated.

Also, Shelby’s attorney suggested that Crutcher went for the inside of the vehicle to possibly fetch a weapon, but none of the camera shots show that the window was open.

In fact, Crutcher’s blood smeared the glass, and there are drips of blood coming down the car’s door, which suggest that the window was closed at the time of the shooting.

Officer Betty Shelby has been serving the force since 2011 and believed that Crutcher posed a threat as he did not comply her requests. Shelby’s attorney explained that she inferred from Crutcher patting his pockets,that he was holding a gun.

On the other hand, Crutcher’s attorney assures that the victim was placing his hands on the top of the car. Terence Crutcher’ acquaintances describe him as an honest man who studied at a nearby community college to provide for his family.

Protests have risen throughout the city but none of them have turned violent. A wave of racial-biased shootings perpetrated by police led to riots in the city of Charlotte early this week, as another African-American was shot and killed by police under dubious circumstances.

Source: CNN