TULSA, Okla. – Authorities have released the interview of an Oklahoma police officer moments after she fatally shot a man last year.
Last year, a witness called 911 to say that a man was running away from an abandoned vehicle in the middle of the road.
According to the witness, Terrence Crutcher kept saying the vehicle was going to blow up.
Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby said once on scene, she cleared the vehicle and did not see anyone inside.
As she turned back to her patrol car, she said she saw Crutcher walking toward her.
She says Crutcher did not obey her commands when she told him to “show me your hands.”
She also testified that Crutcher put his hands on the vehicle and moved to reach into the vehicle.
That’s when Shelby fired her weapon at Crutcher, and the officer next to her, Officer Tyler Turnbough, tased him.
Last week, a jury found Shelby not guilty of manslaughter related to Crutcher’s death.
Some jurors “could never get comfortable” with saying Shelby was blameless in the death because it appeared she could have used a taser in the moments before Crutcher reached into the vehicle, a letter from the jurors said.
“However, there was no evidence presented that her extensive training allowed such an option,” the letter said. “The jury could not, beyond a reasonable doubt, conclude that she did anything outside of her duties and training as a police officer in that situation.”
“This is definitely a tough pill to swallow,” Tiffany Crutcher said after a jury found Officer Betty Shelby not guilty of her brother’s killing. “Now we have to go home and hug on his kids.”
Since the trial is over, the judge released the Tulsa Police Department’s interview with Shelby that occurred three days after she fatally shot Crutcher.
During the interview, Shelby was asked about her sleep patterns, the events leading up to the shooting and her normal day-to-day actions.
Shelby says she was originally going to back up another officer on a domestic disturbance when she comes upon Crutcher standing in the middle of the road.
She says she didn’t know what was going on because Crutcher was standing in the roadway with his head down before he saw her and began staring at her vehicle.
Once he was out of the road, Shelby said she planned to continue to the domestic disturbance.
However, she says he turned and then went to the center median. Shelby said she could tell by Crutcher’s face that he was on some sort of drug because she is a drug recognition expert.
She drove past Crutcher and then spots an abandoned vehicle in the roadway. At that point, she said she got on the radio and began searching for anyone inside the vehicle.
When she saw Crutcher walking toward the car, she said she asked Crutcher if the vehicle was his. She said he said something, but she couldn’t understand what he said.
She said he put his hands in his pockets, and so she asked him to take his hands out of his pockets. At that point, he put his hands in the air but then dropped one hand back into his pocket.
Shelby said she was asking for other officers to hold traffic and alerted dispatchers that the man was acting strange and was not obeying commands.
When she said to show his hands, he put both hands in the air. She told investigators that she told Crutcher to stay there, but she was worried because he was much bigger than her, he was acting strangely and she was by herself.
Shelby gets emotional when she recalled telling Crutcher to get on his knees, but then he began walking back to his vehicle and put one hand in his pocket.
She said she could hear a siren coming, and could see Crutcher look at something behind her and start walking toward his vehicle.
Shelby says she continued to yell at him to stop and began walking behind him.
“I’ve told him over, ‘Stop, stop!’ He goes on around his vehicle and he goes to the driver’s side. I come around he drops his arm and I go, ‘Stop! Stop! Stop!” Shelby recalls, breaking down in tears. “He didn’t stop. I thought he was going for a gun and I took the target. I shot him in the side, in the chest. I thought he was going to kill me.”
At that point, Shelby crumples to the floor and says she’s never been so scared in her life.
Shelby says she didn’t realize other officers had arrived on the scene already, saying she thought she was by herself.
She said that she didn’t know another officer had tased Crutcher, and says she didn’t think she had time to use less than lethal force.