Opening statements were made today in the trial of police officer Betty Shelby, accused of fatally shooting Terence Crutcher on September 16, 2016 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Shelby is charged with manslaughter and faces four years to life in prison if convicted.
The jury consists of two black women, seven white women and three white men. The alternates are one black man and one white woman.
Shelby, 43, shot and killed Crutcher, 40, after approaching him on the street after his car broke down. Video shows him walking away from her with his hands up.
The Tulsa County District Attorney’s office claims 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 help up, becoming emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted.”
Shelby’s defense attorney Shannon McMurray told the jury it was a rush to file charges.
Shelby has been on unpaid leave since the shooting, and said that she fired her weapon because she thought Crutcher was going for a gun.
The prosecution’s first witness was Tulsa police officer Tyler Turnbough. He described coming to the scene and said that he saw Shelby had drawn her gun, so he drew his Taser in order to offer up a less-lethal option. Turnbough testified that he told Shelby he had drawn his Taser, but Turnbough said he wasn’t sure if Shelby acknowledged that she heard him.
Turnbough said he saw Crutcher reach his left hand into the window of his Lincoln Navigator, which prompted him to fire his taser at the exact moment Shelby fired her gun.
Trial is expected to take about a week. News on 6 has notes from the opening statements. I’ll do my best to update the trial in the comment section below.
On September 16, 2016, Terence Crutcher was shot dead by Tulsa Police Department Officer Betty Shelby.
Shelby was hired by the Tulsa Police Department in 2011 after working for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office from June 2007 to November 2011.
In the 5 years that she’s been on the police force, Shelby had two excessive force complaints. Authorities say that both were unfounded.
The following information is from Betty Shelby’s application for employment with the Tulsa Sheriff’s Department, which you can read at this link.
When she applied for a position as a deputy sheriff in 2007, Shelby had been married twice before she married Dave Shelby, her current husband, who also works for the Tulsa Police Department and was in the helicopter that captured video of Shelby killing Terence.
Based on her 2007 application for employment, Shelby had not worked since 2002. Her last job before being hired as a deputy sheriff was as a teacher’s assistant. She wrote on the application that she quit that job to attend school full-time.
On her application for employment, Shelby answered “yes” to the question, “Ever possessed or used illegal drugs?”
She also answered “yes” to having a protection order filed against her, or pending action.
Some sources are reporting purported letters that Shelby wrote explaining the orders of protection and her drug use, but those letters have not been publicly released.
NBC reports that the 42-year old officer’s work history and past conduct are now under scrutiny as authorities examine if she acted within reason in killing 40-year old Terence Crutcher.