An Oklahoma community that was trying to heal after a Tulsa police officer was acquitted for killing an unarmed Black man has now been dealt another blow. A decision to allow Betty Shelby to teach a law enforcement course sparked a protest on Monday (Aug. 27).
Shelby, who is no longer an officer but a deputy for the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office, took the life of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher nearly two years ago. She was scheduled to lead a course for Tulsa County deputies on “surviving the aftermath of officer-involved shootings” on Tuesday, NBC affiliate KJRH reported. Protesters gathered in front of the Tulsa County Courthouse to oppose the decision, a video posted to Facebook revealed.
“We’re here because we are disappointed in the very tone-deaf decision that has been made by the Tulsa County Sheriff’s department to use a polarizing figure such as Ms. Shelby to teach a class on a critical situation,” Rodney Goss, pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church, is heard saying in a clip posted by KJRH. “This class and her as a teacher implies that there was a false narrative that she was somehow the victim of aggression and that this aggression caused her to fight for her life, and she survived this aggression and now she is teaching it to other officers. We know that the reality is that she was the aggressor and Terence Crutcher was the victim. He was not doing anything to threaten her that she would be considered a survivor.”
The community was “attempting to heal” and “trying and working patiently” for justice in Tulsa, Goss said. However, the decision to allow Shelby to teach others was “insensitive” and “pulled a scab off of a wound,” the pastor told the crowd as protesters stood next to him.
Shelby shot and killed Crutcher, who was unarmed with his hands raised in the air, during a routine traffic stop in September 2016. Shelby, who was tried for manslaughter before being acquitted last May, said she “feared for her life” in a “60 Minutes” interview. A jury of her peers stated that she should never be a patrol officer again, CBS affiliate KWTV reported.