Effective August 3, 2017, Betty Jo Shelby will no longer be a member of the Tulsa Police Department.
Shelby drew headlines in 2016 after becoming the latest in a series of police officers to shoot and kill unarmed black citizens during seemingly routine police encounters. In May, a jury acquitted Shelby for shooting an unarmed Terrence Crutcher during a traffic stop in September of 2016. The announcement of Shelby’s pending resignation came via a statement issued by the Fraternal Order of Police.
“I have found that sitting behind a desk, isolated from all of my fellow officers and the citizens of Tulsa, is just not for me,” the statement read in part. Shelby also referred to Crutcher’s killing as “a tragedy for everyone involved” and said she will “pray for healing for his family.”
The phrase “sitting behind a desk” likely references Shelby being removed from active patrol after her acquittal. Partial footage of the traffic encounter between Shelby and Crutcher shows Crutcher holding up both of his hands. However, it was unclear if Crutcher’s hands were in the air at the moment when Shelby shot and ultimately killed him. During an interview with 60 Minutes, Shelby cited fear of being harmed as her reason for discharging her firearm.
“I’m feeling that his intent is to do me harm, and I keep thinking, ‘Don’t do this. Please don’t do this. Don’t make this happen,’” Shelby said.
Betty Jo Shelby was placed on unpaid administrative leave after being charged with first-degree manslaughter on September 22, 2016. She was reinstated May 19, 2017. In addition to being reinstated, Corey Jones of the Tulsa World estimates Shelby received $36,000 in back pay to offset the time she was on unpaid administrative leave.