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.