A white Oklahoma cop who shot and killed an unarmed black man in September 2016 was acquitted Wednesday. Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby was found not guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher, the Associated Press reported. After the verdict was announced, Crutcher's family addressed the jury's decision.
"Let it be known that I believe in my heart that Betty Shelby got away with murder," Rev. Joey Crutcher, Terence's father, said. Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, Terence's sister, agreed. "Terence was not the aggressor," she told reporters. "Betty Shelby was the aggressor. Betty Shelby had the gun. Betty Shelby was following him, with his hands up. Betty Shelby murdered my brother." The family has also called for the firing of Homicide Sgt. Dave Walker.
On Sept. 16, Shelby and another officer responded to calls of a stalled SUV in the middle of the street. Shelby argued that she fired her gun because Crutcher, who was not armed, hadn't obeyed her commands and appeared to reach for a weapon inside the vehicle. Video of the shooting showed that Crutcher, 40, actually walked away from Shelby with his hands held above his head. No weapons were discovered on Crutcher's person or inside the vehicle. Crutcher's family called police's focus on a vial of PCP discovered inside the vehicle an attempt at demonizing Terence.
Following her acquittal, Shelby's status with Tulsa police is being evaluated by the department's legal and human resources officials. At a news conference Thursday, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said the result of these evaluations is expected in the near future. "We know we've had failings," Jordan said, according to Tulsa World. "We understand that, and we're committed absolutely to making a better relationship where we ensure trust and ensure cooperation in our community."