Betty Jo Shelby has been found not guilty of first degree manslaughter charges connected to the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher.
In another controversial ruling following an equally controversial shooting, the Tulsa, Okla. police officer was apparently “elated” after jurors read the ruling. Meanwhile, Crutcher’s family was escorted out of the courtroom due to their emotional reaction, according to CBS News.
“Let it be known that I believe in my heart that Betty Shelby got away with murder,” Crutcher’s father, Rev. Joey Crutcher said.
On Sept. 16, Shelby and other officers arrived at the scene where Crutcher was pulled over to the side of the road. Helicopter and dashboard camera footage show Shelby shooting and killing Crutcher as he stepped towards his vehicle. She and other officers claimed they believed he was reaching for a gun. No weapon was found on the scene.
Protestors gathered outside of the courthouse following the verdict do share their displeasure. Crutcher is another victim of a shooting who will likely never see justice mainly because the trigger was pulled by a police officer. [Some speculate Shelby being a white woman also played a factor.]
“When is it going to stop – just officer-related shootings? When will the police change policy,” said Marq Lewis, organizer of the local civil rights group We The People Oklahoma.
Shelby’s defense attorneys claimed that she acted appropriately that day because she couldn’t have possibly known Crutcher wasn’t reaching for a weapon. Meanwhile, prosecutors told jurors that video footage showed that Crutcher was shot while he was still at least five feet away from his car.
Out of the 12 jurors for the trial, three were black. Eight were men and four were women. CBS News reports that they left the courthouse in silence while at least three of them shed tears over the decision.
During an interview with “60 Minutes” last year, Shelby defended her actions that day and went as far as to blame Crutcher for his own death.
“I’m feeling that his intent is to do me harm and I keep thinking, “Don’t do this. Please don’t do this. Don’t make this happen,” Shelby said.
“I have sorrow that this happened that this man lost his life but he caused the situation to occur,” she continued. “So in the end, he caused his own. ”
Crutcher’s family and supporters feel that Shelby acted too hastily that day and killed a man who had no reason to die.
“My brother’s dead because she didn’t pause. And because she didn’t pause, my family, we’ve had to pause,” Tiffany Crutcher, Terence’s sister, said. “We’ve had to stop. We’ve had to lay down every single night with tears in our eyes.”