Tulsa officer charged with manslaughter turns herself in, gets bail
Video of shooting in Oklahoma shows Terence Crutcher walking away from officer with his arms in the air
An Oklahoma police officer charged with first-degree manslaughter in last week's shooting death of an unarmed black man has surrendered to authorities.
Tulsa County jail records show that 42-year-old Betty Shelby turned herself in early Friday, hours after prosecutors charged her with first-degree manslaughter in the death of Terence Crutcher last week. The minimum penalty for a first-degree manslaughter conviction is four years in the state penitentiary.
The records show Shelby, who is white, was booked at 1:11 a.m. local time and released at 1:31 a.m. after posting $50,000 bond.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler filed the charges, saying Shelby "reacted unreasonably" when she shot and killed 40-year-old Crutcher on Sept. 16. Dashcam and aerial footage of the shooting and its aftermath showed Crutcher walking away from Shelby with his arms in the air.
- Terence Crutcher, black motorist with stalled car, shot dead by Okla. police
- Protests about people being killed, not the anthem: NFL player
The footage does not offer a clear view of when Shelby fired the single shot that killed Crutcher. Her lawyer has said Crutcher was not following police commands and that Shelby opened fire when the man began to reach into his SUV window.
But Crutcher's family immediately discounted that claim, saying the father of four posed no threat to the officers, and police said Crutcher did not have a gun on him or in his vehicle.
His twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, welcomed the charge against Shelby.
Speaking with reporters outside the Tulsa County Courthouse on Thursday, she said the family is grateful for the charge, but they want to ensure the district attorney vigorously prosecutes the case and obtains a conviction, and that the conviction will end the killing of innocent citizens by police.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said she hopes the charge provides some peace to the deceased's family. She urged Tulsa residents to be patient as the case works its way through the justice system, noting Shelby is innocent until proven guilty.
'Thought Mr. Crutcher was going to kill her'
According to an affidavit filed with the manslaughter charge, 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 held up, becoming emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted."
Shelby, who joined the Tulsa Police Department in December 2011, was en route to a domestic violence call when she encountered Crutcher's vehicle abandoned on a city street, straddling the centre line. Shelby did not activate her patrol car's dashboard camera, so no footage exists of what first happened between the two before other officers arrived.
The police footage shows Crutcher approaching the driver's side of the SUV, then more officers walk up and Crutcher appears to lower his hands and place them on the vehicle. A man inside a police helicopter overhead says: "That looks like a bad dude, too. Probably on something."
The officers surround Crutcher and he suddenly drops to the ground. A voice heard on police radio says: "Shots fired!" The officers back away and Crutcher is left unattended on the street for about two minutes before an officer puts on medical gloves and begins to attend to him.
The affidavit says Shelby told police homicide investigators that "she was in fear for her life and thought Mr. Crutcher was going to kill her. When she began following Mr. Crutcher to the vehicle with her duty weapon drawn, she was yelling for him to stop and get on his knees repeatedly."
Crutcher was wearing "baggy clothes," but Shelby "was not able to see any weapons or bulges indicating a weapon was present," the affidavit states.
Warning: video below contains graphic content
Among the definitions in Oklahoma for first-degree manslaughter is a killing "perpetrated unnecessarily either while resisting an attempt by the person killed to commit a crime, or after such attempt shall have failed."
If convicted, Shelby could face a minimum of four years in prison.
Earlier this year, a former volunteer deputy with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office was sentenced to four years in prison after he was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Eric Harris.