First Degree Manslaughter Charges Filed Against Police Officer Involved in Terence Crutcher Shooting
In a press conference this afternoon, Tulsa District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler announced that charges would be filed against an officer involved in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher. An arrest warrant has been issued for Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby with the charge of First Degree Manslaughter. Arrangements have also been made for her surrender, according to the Tulsa World.
Kunzwieler's announcement, which can be seen in the video above, came after reviewing dash cam video and helicopter video of the shooting as well as a review of 911 calls, witness interviews and other evidence related to the incident.
On Friday, Crutcher was shot and killed after police came upon his car stalled in the middle of a road. Video footage of the shooting, which showed Crutcher with his hands above his head and included an officer referring to him as a 'big, bad dude,' has been the subject of nationwide debate. Crutcher was not armed and did not have a weapon in his vehicle at the time. He was tasered by one of four officers on the scene and then fatally shot by Officer Shelby, a member of the police force since 2011.Shelby was placed on paid administrative leave while the investigation began.
Shelby had said that she feared for her life during the incident. The affidavit also says that "Although Mr. Crutcher was wearing baggy clothes, Officer Shelby was not able to see any weapons or bulge indicating (a) weapon was present."
According to the Tulsa World, the charges indicate that Officer 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 over reacted."
If convicted of the crime, Shelby could face a minimum of four years for the felony charge with the maximum sentence being life in prison. A press release from Kunzweiler makes sure to remind that "Officer Shelby, although now charged, is presumed to be innocent under the law until a judge or jury determines otherwise."