TULSA, Okla. (CN) – The judge in the case of the Tulsa policewoman accused of shooting to death an unarmed black motorist scolded Officer Betty Shelby for appearing on “60 Minutes” and endangering the jury selection process.
In a 9-page order on Thursday, Tulsa County Judge Doug Drummond reminded Shelby of a Nov. 28 written request he made to the attorneys in the case to refrain from making extrajudicial statements if they know the statements “will have an imminent and material prejudicial effect” on the case. The letter fell short of being a binding gag order.
“Since the date of that letter, the public comments continued, either volunteered or in response to questions from the media,” Drummond wrote. “However, of particular concern – given the jury trial is scheduled May 8, 2017 – is the potential impact of the defendant’s April 2, 2017 voluntary appearance on a national news show (60 Minutes), as well as her attorney’s interviews with KFAQ (local news show) right before and right after the episode aired.”
Shelby, 43, wept during the televised interview, denying she is racist and denying fault in shooting death of Terence Crutcher, 40, an unarmed black motorist, during a traffic stop on Sept. 16, 2016.
She has pleaded not guilty to first-degree manslaughter.
“I have sorrow that this happened, that this man lost his life, but he caused the situation to occur,” Shelby said on “60 Minutes.” “So in the end, he caused his own [death.]”
Shelby is seen in helicopter and dashboard camera footage exiting her police cruiser near a disabled SUV while Crutcher is shown slowly walking away from her with both arms in the air.
Crutcher walks toward the driver side of the SUV and is hidden from view as the police helicopter circles around the passenger side. He slumps and falls to the ground after being shot. A female voice on the radio screams “shots fired.” No weapons were found on Crutcher or in his car.
“What I based everything on was his actions, his behaviors,” Shelby said during the interview. “Race had nothing to do with my decision-making.”
Her attorneys have publicly stated she was scared, thought Crutcher was on drugs and that he failed to follow commands. A medical examiner concluded that Crutcher had the mood-altering drug PCP in his system when he died.
“His hands are just dropped beside him. His chin is resting on his chest and he is standing there motionless,” Shelby said. “And I thought, ‘I wonder if he is on PCP.’”
Shelby said she did not consider shooting him in the leg because police are not trained to do that.
“We do not train to be cowboys and to be like what they show on the movies,” she said.