Jury Finds Tulsa Police Officer Not Guilty in Fatal Shooting of Unarmed Black Man

May 18, 2017

A white Oklahoma police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man last year has been found not guilty of first-degree manslaughter after nine hours of jury deliberations.

Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby killed 40-year-old Terence Crutcher Sept. 16 on a city street where his SUV had stalled. The video taken of Crutcher's shooting by a dashboard camera and helicopter shows Crutcher walking away from Shelby toward his SUV with hands above his head.

The family of Terence Crutcher burst into tears and reacted with outrage after jurors found Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby not guilty in the Sept. 16 shooting.

"Let it be known that I believe in my heart that Betty Shelby got away with murder," Crutcher's father, Rev. Joey Crutcher said after the verdict was announced.

A lawyer for Shelby said the officer was "elated" that the jury found her not guilty.

"She's ready to get back to her life," Defense Attorney Shannon McMurray said.

Shelby looked stone-faced when the verdict was read, but Crutcher's family was quickly ushered out of the courtroom sobbing and wailing.

At least four of the 12 jurors were crying as they left the courtroom and did not look at either the family of Crutcher or Shelby. The juror comprised eight women and four men and included three African-Americans.

Demonstrators gathered outside the courtroom Wednesday evening in peaceful protest at the verdict. Marq Lewis, organizer of the local civil rights group We The People Oklahoma said the verdict was a blow to Tulsa's black community.

"When is it going to stop - just officer-related shootings? When will the police change policy," he said.

Shelby's attorneys say that in the two minutes before cameras began recording the encounter, Shelby repeatedly ordered Crutcher to stop walking away from her and get on the ground.

The jury got the case shortly after noon Wednesday, following closing arguments in which prosecutors said Crutcher was not a threat to Shelby, did not make any aggressive moves toward her or any of the responding officers and didn't say he was going to be aggressive toward her. Shelby, who has been on unpaid leave, had faced four years to life in prison if convicted.

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