DEVELOPING: Prosecutors filed first-degree manslaughter charges against Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby in the death of Terence Crutcher. Shelby, a white police officer, shot Mr. Crutcher, an unarmed black man, on a city street during a confrontation was captured on a police dashcam and in aerial footage.
Officer Shelby makes the second Tulsa police officer charged this year following a former volunteer deputy with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office. He was sentenced to four years in prison after he was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Eric Harris.
The charges come as North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency following rioting in Charlotte resulting from the officer-involved shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott. Violence broke out after the daughter of the 43-year-old Scott posted a profanity-filled, hourlong video on Facebook claiming her father had some kind of disability and was unarmed.
In the footage, she claimed he was only carrying a book and was waiting for his son to get off the school bus. On Wednesday, a man identifying himself as Scott’s brother said to media that “all white people are devils, all white cops are devils.”
While law enforcement officials have refused to release video of the Scott shooting by Officer Brentley Vinson—who is also African-American—the preponderance of evidence backs up the police version of the story. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney agreed to show the footage, which clearly shows Mr. Scott with a gun, to his family only.
Police say Mr. Scott ignored repeated law commands to drop his gun, which was corroborated by non-police witnesses. Neighborhood residents say otherwise, but images leaked clearly show a gun on the ground near Mr. Scott’s foot, which the family says was planted.
The Republican governor called in the National Guard at the request of Chief Putney.
But the incidents of police shootings in North Carolina and Oklahoma are not the same, despite some attempting to wrap them in one narrative. Officer Shelby, who joined the Tulsa Police Department in December 2011, was responding to a domestic violence call when she came across Mr. Crutcher with his vehicle abandoned on a city street on the center line.
The video footage shows 40-year-old Terence Crutcher walking away from Officer Shelby with his arms in the air. However, the video does not show Officer Shelby firing the single shot that killed Mr. Crutcher and her attorney said he was not following lawful police commands. He said that Officer Shelby opened fire when the man began to reach into his SUV window.
Because she did not turn on her dashcam the only police footage available shows Mr. Crutcher walking toward the driver’s side of the SUV before more officers walk up. He appears to lower his hands and place them on the vehicle when man inside a police helicopter hovering overhead says, “That looks like a bad dude, too. Probably on something.”
Elinor Fibel / September 22, 2016
Everybody should be held accountable for their actions.