Tulsa police officer charged in shooting death of Terence Crutcher
PUBLISHED Thu, September 22, 2016 - 8:42pm EDT
Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby has been charged with first degree manslaughter in the shooting death of unarmed black man Terence Crutcher, prosecutors say. A warrant for her arrest has been issued. (more)
The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office said in a court document filed on Thursday that Officer Shelby reacted "unreasonably" when Crutcher failed to respond to verbal commands, though he was unarmed and had his hands in the air.
An arrest warrant has been issued and arrangements are being made for Shelby to surrender herself, the district attorney's office said. If convicted of first degree manslaughter, Shelby faces at least four years in prison.
The incident happened last Friday when Officer Shelby responded to a domestic violence call and came across Crutcher, who was standing on the road near an SUV that was partially blocking the road, according to court documents.
"He was mumbling to himself and would not answer any of Officer Shelby's questions. Mr. Crutcher kept putting his hands in his pockets and Officer Shelby kept telling him to show his hands," Doug Campbell, the DA's chief investigator, explained in court documents.
At that point, Campbell writes, Crutcher began walking towards his vehicle while holding his hands in the air but ignoring Shelby's commands to stop. "[Shelby] has pulled her duty weapon in the ready position and follows him to the vehicle," the investigator explains.
As Officer Shelby approached the left rear of the vehicle with her weapon pointed at Crutcher, a second officer arrives at the scene and joins her, telling Shelby that he has his Taser ready. As Crutcher reaches in the driver's side front window, the second officer fires his Taser, after which Crutcher fired her weapon.
Crutcher fell to the ground and was rushed to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
A dashcam video used in the investigation shows Shelby pointing her weapon at Crutcher as he walks towards the vehicle with both of his hands in the air, though Crutcher's left hand is unobservable in footage shot by the police department's helicopter. At that time, Crutcher fires her weapon.
"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," Campbell adds.
Shelby later told investigators that she was in fear of her life and thought Crutcher was going to kill her, explaining that she had repeatedly yelled for him to stop and to get on his knees, according to the court documents.
"Your affiant feels 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 up, becoming emotionally involved to the point that she over reacted," Campbell said.
The investigator added that even though Crutcher was wearing baggy clothes, Shelby did not see any weapons or bulges to indicate a possible weapon.