Tulsa Police officer acquitted in deadly shooting will return to active duty

Betty Shelby is accused of shooting Terrence Crutcher to death

TULSA, Okla.–Tulsa Police announce an officer acquitted in the shooting death of an unarmed man will be allowed to return to duty, but not on patrol.

Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan issued a statement Friday making the announcement in regards to officer Betty Jo Shelby.

A jury on Wednesday found Shelby not guilty of manslaughter in the death of Terence Crutcher.

Shelby said she fired her weapon out of fear because Crutcher ignored her commands to lie down and appeared to reach inside his SUV for what she thought was a gun.

But prosecutors said Shelby overreacted.

 

Jurors who acquitted the white Oklahoma police officer of killing an unarmed black man last year say the officer could have used a less-lethal method to subdue him that could have saved his life.

The foreman of the jury that found Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby not guilty of manslaughter in the death of Terence Crutcher on Wednesday also says in a letter that jurors weren’t comfortable with the idea that Shelby was “blameless” in Crutcher’s death.

The three-page memo was filed Friday in court. The foreman and others don’t identify themselves in the memo.

Shelby’s defense attorney acknowledged that Shelby could have fired a stun gun instead of a firearm but said the officer had to make a “split-second” decision because Shelby thought Crutcher was armed. No gun was found.

The ACLU of Oklahoma quickly reacted to the announcement about Shelby’s return to duty.

The continued employment of Officer Shelby, as well as the officers who failed to take life-saving actions on the scene of Terence Crutcher’s death; the failure to publicly condemn the dehumanization and racial-profiling of Mr. Crutcher prior to and during his interactions with TDP officers; and the apparent absence of any substantive changes to the training or protocol that allowed for this killing in the first place call into question whether Tulsans, especially Tulsans of color, can trust the Tulsa Police Department to protect and serve.

“Considering the violence, the willful disregard for human life, overt evidence of racism, and policies and protocols that allow these conditions to persist, it’s difficult to imagine why anyone should trust the Tulsa Police Department to keep Tulsans, particularly Tulsans of color, safe,” said Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director at the ACLU of Oklahoma. “If the Tulsa Police Department hopes to restore community trust, there are immediate and necessary steps they can take, but instead Tulsans are being subjected to a tone deaf department too focused on rhetoric and token gestures.”

Read the full ACLU statement.