Tulsa cop charged with manslaughter turns herself in

Betty Shelby, the Tulsa cop charged in Terence Crutcher's shooting death, turned herself in this morning and was released shortly after.

Prosecutors in Tulsa, Okla., filed first-degree manslaughter charges Thursday against the white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man last week.

The charges were filed nearly a week after Officer Betty Shelby shot Terence Crutcher, 40, who was approached by police Sept. 16 as he stood in the middle of a road with a car that appeared to have stalled.

Shelby turned herself in at the Tulsa County jail Friday morning and was released on bond, KJRH reports. She has a court date set for next Friday.

The death drew nationwide and even global attention to Tulsa as a debate brewed over whether Crutcher was reaching for something inside his car window at the time of the incident. Crutcher's family members say they have viewed video of the shooting and that the windows were closed.

According to an affidavit, Shelby was responding as backup to a domestic call when she came upon Crutcher in the road with a vehicle blocking eastbound and westbound lanes. Shelby exited her vehicle and approached Crutcher, who was mumbling to himself and would not answer any questions, the affidavit said.

Crutcher kept putting his hands in his pockets and taking them out and then walked toward his vehicle with his hands up, according to the document. Shelby then pulled out her weapon as Office Tyler Turnbough arrived on the scene, announcing he was ready with a stun gun, according to the affidavit.

Crutcher then reached in a car window, after which Turnbough applied the stun gun and Shelby fired into Crutcher's right lung area, sending him falling to the ground, the affidavit reads.

"The officers at the scene found no weapons on or near Mr. Crutcher and no weapons were found near, inside, or in the vicinity of the vehicle," according to the document. "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."

Lawyers for Crutcher's family said the affidavit includes key points that they believe prove Shelby did not feel a threat from Crutcher.
The document indicates that Shelby walked around the vehicle or cleared it, making sure there were no weapons inside that could pose harm to her, Crutcher family attorney Melvin Hall said during a press conference on Wednesday.
Hall also pointed out that the family legal team had blown up a photo of the scene that they say shows the driver's side window is up and has blood on it, which they say disputes Shelby's claim that Crutcher reached into the vehicle before she fired.
Crutcher's twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, said the family is gratified about the charges but watchful because, she said, many similar cases wind up with no convictions.
"We take solace with the outpouring of support for our community," Tiffany Crutcher said Thursday. "We are so thankful his spirit will live on in the many lives he touched over the years."
The charges were able to be announced so quickly probably because in Oklahoma, a district attorney can opt to bring charges without the convening of a grand jury, said A. Scott Bolden, managing partner of the Washington-based Reed Smith firm, and a former assistant district attorney with New York County.
"I'm not surprised at the swiftness of the decision," Bolden said. "In cases of such a high profile nature, and with so many official videos taken by the police, that coupled with investigators, local D.A. investigators and even with some help from the feds, you can probably make a determination within days of what you’ve observed."
Legal analyst Mark McBride, based in Beverly Hills, said he believes the charge should have been murder and that Shelby was given a more lenient charge because she is a woman.
"What are the male cops in the Tulsa Police Department thinking?" McBridge asked. "I should come back as a pretty white woman from Bel Air in my next life. It would have been murder if it had been a male police officer."
Shelby's lawyer, Scott Wood, told the Tulsa World that he was out of town on business and would make a statement on the case on Friday morning.
In a statement, Gov. Mary Fallin called on Oklahomans to weigh the development peacefully.
"I pray this decision provides some peace to the Crutcher family and the people of Tulsa, but we must remain patient as the case works its way through the justice system, where a jury likely will be asked to decide whether officer Betty Shelby is guilty of the crime," Fallin said. "And we must remember that in our justice system, officer Shelby is innocent until proven guilty."


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