White Tulsa police officer acquitted over fatal shooting of unarmed black




  • In US
  • 2017-05-18 05:36:49Z
  • By By Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton
FILE PHOTO: Tulsa Oklahoma Police Officer Betty Shelby in Tulsa County Jail booking photo
FILE PHOTO: Tulsa Oklahoma Police Officer Betty Shelby in Tulsa County Jail booking photo

By Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton

TULSA, Okla. (Reuters) - An Oklahoma jury on Wednesday found a white Tulsa police officer not guilty of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in a confrontation caught on video last September, stoking a national debate over racial bias in law enforcement.

Betty Shelby, 43, was acquitted after a week-long trial. She denied race was a factor in the killing and insisted her actions were driven entirely by the behavior of the man she shot, Terence Crutcher, 40, after his car was left blocking a road.

Police videos of the incident were seen globally, and some civil rights advocates have argued that race was a factor. Rights advocates saw the Crutcher case as another in a string of deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of the police in the United States that has spawned periodic protests and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Lawyers for Shelby have said she believed that Crutcher may have been trying to reach through a partially open window for a weapon in the vehicle when she shot him.

"This is a tough pill to swallow. The facts were there. The elements were there. Terence's hands were in the air. He was not an immediate threat," Crutcher's sister, Tiffany, said after the verdict.

Jurors were visibly emotional and some cried when the verdict was read by the judge some nine hours after they began deliberating.

"What I respect is the process. The true reality is that we all knew it was a difficult case," said Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler who prosecuted the case.

Shelby's lawyers did not comment to Reuters after the verdict was read.

About 50 protesters gathered outside the courthouse in downtown Tulsa after the verdict was read. They chanted "no justice, no peace" and blocked traffic in an intersection during a peaceful demonstration, media reported.

They also gathered outside a hotel where Shelby was believed to be staying and shouted profanities, the Tulsa World reported.

The case hinged on videos in which Crutcher can be seen with his hands in the air shortly before he was shot. Tulsa police have said Crutcher was unarmed and there was no weapon in his vehicle.

Shelby told the jury that she was taught during training that if a suspect reaches into an area like a car, an officer does not let them pull their arm back because they might be holding a gun, the Tulsa World reported from the court room.

She said the first time she fired her weapon on duty was when she shot Crutcher, who did not speak during their encounter, according to court testimony from officers on the scene.

Prosecutors have said there was no reason for Shelby to fire on a man who was walking away from her. They blame her for turning a routine traffic matter into a deadly confrontation by acting unreasonably and escalating the situation.

The Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office said that Crutcher had 96 nanograms per milliliter of the hallucinogenic drug PCP in his bloodstream at the time of his death.

Prosecutors have previously said Crutcher's drug use was not reason enough for Shelby to resort to deadly force, media reports said.


(Reporting by Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Dan Grebler, Richard Chang and Nick Macfie)

COMMENTS

More Related News

St. Louis approves police body cameras ahead of more protests
St. Louis approves police body cameras ahead of more protests
  • US
  • 2017-09-20 22:44:10Z

St. Louis officials decided on Wednesday to supply police officers with body cameras for a year as the city prepares for a sixth night of protests after a white former police officer was acquitted of killing a black man. The city's Board of Estimate and Apportionment voted 3-0 to have Axon Enterprise Inc, a police body camera company, supply its 1,200 officers with free software, hardware and training for a year.

After protests, St. Louis mayor says address racism
After protests, St. Louis mayor says address racism
  • US
  • 2017-09-19 22:40:41Z

By Brendan O'Brien ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - The legacies of racism, not only the violent protests that gripped St. Louis after a white former police officer was acquitted of murdering a black man, must be addressed, the city's mayor said on Tuesday. Mayor Lyda Krewson said she had listened and read the reaction of residents since the controversial verdict on Friday and was ready to find ways to move the city forward. "This is institutional racism." The city has been working to expedite existing plans to increase equity as well as develop new approaches, including changing how police shootings are investigated and granting subpoena powers to a police civilian oversight board, and...

Black cops in St. Louis stuck between public, fellow officers
Black cops in St. Louis stuck between public, fellow officers
  • US
  • 2017-09-19 16:54:51Z

During a peaceful protest moments before St. Louis would erupt into three nights of racially charged riots, five people confronted a black police officer alone in his Jeep. "How do you sleep at night?" Lisa Vega, who is Hispanic, asked the officer through an open window. Such questions are typical of what African-American police officers face every time a white colleague kills a black man in the United States.

St. Louis police probe whether officers chanted
St. Louis police probe whether officers chanted 'Whose streets? Our streets'
  • US
  • 2017-09-19 02:32:48Z

St. Louis police are investigating whether some of its officers chanted "Whose streets? Several hundred people marched through the streets of St. Louis again on Monday evening, but rallies remained peaceful as on-and-off rain appeared to keep some protesters at home. More than 120 people were arrested late Sunday, when police in riot gear used pepper spray and detained activists who defied orders to disperse following larger, peaceful protests.

'We Get Out Here and Disrupt.' More Than 140 People Arrested Amid Protests in St. Louis
'We Get Out Here and Disrupt.' More Than 140 People Arrested Amid Protests in St. Louis

Protests shut down businesses and large corporate offices

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: US

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.