Acquitted of Manslaughter, Tulsa Police Officer Resigns

TULSA, Okla. (CN) — Tulsa police Wednesday accepted the resignation of the white police officer acquitted of killing unarmed black motorist Terence Crutcher last year.

Betty Shelby, 43, submitted her resignation letter on July 14. Police officials accepted the letter with “satisfactory separation,” the Tulsa World newspaper reported. Her last day at work will be Aug. 3.

Shelby was acquitted in May of first-degree manslaughter. She was recorded on dashboard and helicopter video shooting and killing Crutcher, 40, in September as he walked away from her with both arms in the air toward his disabled SUV in the middle of a street.

Shelby said Crutcher did not comply with her commands and she said she feared he was reaching for a weapon through the left-front window. No weapon was found on Crutcher or in the car.

Shelby also said she thought Crutcher was on drugs. A medical examiner determined that he had PCP, or angel dust, in his system when he died.

Shelby repeatedly blamed Crutcher for causing his own death, testifying that she had “no regrets” about what happened, and that she relied on her training.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Shelby said she is “sorry he lost his life” and that the shooting was a “tragedy for everyone involved.”

“I pray for healing for his family,” she said in the July 14 post. “I will continue to pray for the unity of our community, the safety of our citizens and our police officers.”

Shelby was reinstated after acquittal, restricted to desk duty.

“Since being reinstated, I have found that sitting behind a desk, isolated from all of my fellow officers and the citizens of Tulsa, is just not for me,” the post stated.

Crutcher’s estate has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and Shelby, claiming he was subjected to excessive force and deprived of his right to equal protection. The family says the police department’s training and customs “are known to be deliberately indifferent” to residents’ constitutional rights.

“Terence had not committed and was not suspected of committing any serious crime; he did not pose an immediate threat of great bodily harm or death to Officer Shelby, any other officers on the scene (who were there in sufficient numbers to control the situation), or the general public,” the June 15 complaint stated. “Terence was never told he was under arrest or warned he would be shot by Officer Shelby.”

Although they acquitted Shelby, jurors said later that they believe she is not “blameless” in Crutcher’s death and that she had “other options available to subdue” him.


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