Tulsa officer late to career, had de-escalation training

Posted September 25, 2016

Prosecutors in the southern U.S. city of Tulsa on Thursday charged a police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man with first-degree manslaughter.

Tulsa police released two videos on Monday, one taken from a helicopter and the other from a dashboard camera in a patrol auto, that show Crutcher, a Tulsa Community College student, holding his hands in the air shortly before he was shot in the chest.

In the video, the 40-year-old man is seen with his hands up, leaning against his auto. Her attorney says Shelby opened fire when he started to reach into his auto window.

NBC News reported that Shelby's husband, Dave, also a Tulsa police officer, was in the helicopter that caught the final moments of Crutcher's life on camera.

Shelby was released on $50,000 bond and is scheduled for an initial court appearance on September 30.

Betty Shelby, a native of Poteau, Oklahoma, studied biology at Northeastern State University before signing up for the Oklahoma Air National Guard in 1999, according to NBC News.

Crutcher's twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, said her family is pleased with the charge, but she and her attorneys want a vigorous prosecution that leads to a conviction. Shelby says his client drew her gun instead of a stun gun because she thought Terence Crutcher was armed.

Shelby has had no previous disciplinary action against her in her law enforcement career and has received multiple letters of commendation. A man inside a police helicopter says: "That looks like a bad dude, too". The Tulsa Police Department also posted praise to its Facebook page in August after Shelby helped burglary victims recover their stolen property. We echo the Tulsa County District Attorney's firm assertion that Officer Shelby is entitled to due process and presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Shelby said she was traveling to another call when she came upon Crutcher, whose broken-down SUV was blocking a road. Police also quickly provided videos of the shooting to black community leaders and members of Crutcher's family before releasing them to the public. But other video footage shows Crutcher walking away from Shelby and toward his SUV with his arms in the air. Tulsa County jail records show that Shelby turned herself in Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, hours after prosecutors charged her with first-degree manslaughter. "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", the affidavit said.

Shelby, who is free on bond, faces at least four years in prison if convicted of first degree manslaughter.