TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, filed first-degree manslaughter charges 3:30 P.M, Thursday against Officer Betty Shelby, the white police officer who fatally shot Terrance Crutcher, an unarmed black man on a city street, Friday, September 16th.
“I do not know why things happen in this world the way they do,” Kunzweiler said, adding that he determined first-degree manslaughter the appropriate charge. “We need to pray for wisdom and guidance.”
Video released of Crutcher’s shooting death showed the 40-year-old was unarmed and had his hands up before he was stunned with a stun gun and then shot by police. Dashcam and aerial footage of the shooting and its aftermath showed Crutcher walking away from Shelby with his arms in the air. His death sparked outrage and protests, and Shelby was initially placed on paid administrative leave.
The decision to bring charges against Shelby came quickly but is not without precedent. In December, Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the 2014 shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, ABC 7 reported then.
Tulsa County D.A. Kunzweiller announce that a warrant has been issued for Shelby, at the press conference and said she is expected turn herself in to authorities, arrangements are being made.
An affidavit filed Thursday says Shelby told police homicide investigators that “she was in fear for her life and thought Mr. Crutcher was going to kill her. 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 charges indicate that 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 held up, becoming emotionally involved to the point that she over reacted,” the affidavit states.
Among the definitions in Oklahoma for first-degree manslaughter is a killing “perpetrated unnecessarily either while resisting an attempt by the person killed to commit a crime, or after such attempt shall have failed.”
Earlier this year, a former volunteer deputy with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office was sentenced to four years in prison after he was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Eric Harris.
If convicted, Shelby could face a minimum of four years in prison. Stay Tuned to BW for more on this developing story!