Many in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Black community are shocked and outraged on Thursday morning after learning that a cop who fatally shot one of their own will walk free.
In a scene captured on video from a police helicopter and vehicle dashcam, Tulsa police Officer Betty Shelby fired her weapon and struck Crutcher as he walked toward his stalled vehicle in September 2016.
Her defense team told the jury that she fired out of fear, when Crutcher disobeyed her instructions and appeared to reach inside his vehicle for what she believed was a gun. It turned out that Crutcher, a 40-year-old father of four, was unarmed and on the drug PCP.
According to the defense, Shelby, 43, overreacted to Crutcher, who had his hands in the air and was non-aggressive.
The 12-member jury, which included three African-Americans, sided with Shelby.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin released a statement urging calm:
“I ask Oklahomans to respect our criminal justice system and especially the jurors, who heard the evidence from both sides in this case. Those who disagree with the verdict have the right to express their opinions; I just ask that they do so in a peaceful manner. I appeal to Tulsans and others to remain calm. Our thoughts and prayers should be with the Terence Crutcher and Betty Shelby families during this difficult time.”
Some people lashed out on Twitter to the governor’s call to respect the criminal justice system.
Following the verdict, demonstrators protested peacefully outside the courthouse. Marq Lewis, a local civil rights organizer, called the acquittal a blow to Tulsa’s Black community, USA Today reported.
“When is it going to stop — just officer-related shootings? When will the police change policy,” he stated.
Crutcher’s distraught family said justice was not served. His father, the Rev. Joey Crutcher, said, “Let it be known that I believe in my heart that Betty Shelby got away with murder.”
SOURCE: USA Today