Justice

Officer who killed Terence Crutcher charged with first-degree manslaughter

screen capture / tulsa police department

Betty Shelby, the Tulsa, OK police officer who shot and killed unarmed black man Terence Crutcher, has been charged with manslaughter, Tulsa County district attorney Steve Kunzweiler announced on Thursday.

According toThe Tulsa World, Shelby is being accused of first degree manslaughter. A warrant has been issued for her arrest, and she has reportedly made arrangements to surrender to authorities. In a release provided to the paper, the district attorney’s office wrote that “Officer Shelby, although now charged, is presumed to be innocent under the law until a judge or jury determines otherwise.”

According to the affidavit that prompted the arrest warrant, Shelby “reacted unreasonably by escalating” her interaction with Crutcher, “becoming emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted.”

The Tulsa World reported that Shelby could face at least four years in prison if convicted.

Shelby served in the Tulsa County Sheriff’s office from 2007-2011, at which point she joined the Tulsa Police Department, and according to NBC News, she had no disciplinary actions brought against her during her time in the Sheriff’s office. However, on her application to work with the Sheriff’s department did reportedly include admissions of past drug use (marijuana, as a teen), as well as an incident in which she and an ex-boyfriend damaged one another’s vehicles, and another in which the wife of Shelby’s ex-husband claimed she was receiving harassing phone calls.

According to newson6.com, Shelby also received Oklahoma meritorious service award, as well as four letters of commendation for her service.

On Thursday, Tulsa mayor Dewey Bartlett released a statement regarding the charges:

Our Tulsa Police Department worked quickly to provide all the information to the District Attorney. I appreciate their efforts as well as the District Attorney’s usual thorough evaluation of the rules of law for which we are all accountable. These are important steps to ensure that justice and accountability prevails.

“We will continue to be transparent and ensure the system carries out its responsibility to provide justice.

“We also appreciate the expedited work by Governor Mary Fallin and the State Medical Examiner’s office.

“Whether through peaceful demonstrations, prayer vigils or countless statements of support to the Crutcher family and the entire community, we are in this together as one Tulsa. We continue to pray together, mourn together and we will get through this together.

This is a developing story.