Tulsa Cop Charged for Killing of Unarmed Man

     TULSA (CN) – A white Tulsa police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man near a disabled vehicle last week was charged with first-degree manslaughter Thursday, satisfying demands from the community for justice and transparency.
     Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler announced the charge against Officer Betty Shelby, who shot and killed Terence Crutcher, 40, on Sept. 16. She faces at least four years in state prison if convicted.
     In disturbing helicopter and dashboard camera footage released in the days after the shooting, Crutcher is seen slowly walking towards Shelby’s police cruiser near his disabled SUV in the middle of a street. Shelby appears to draw her weapon after exiting her vehicle, resulting in Crutcher slowly walking away from her with both of his arms in the air.
     As Crutcher approaches the driver side of his vehicle, he is hidden from view as the helicopter circles around the passenger side. He then slumps, falls to the ground and is covered in blood after being shot. A female voice is heard on the radio screaming “shots fired.”
     Just before Crutcher is shot, an unknown male in the helicopter says Crutcher “looks like a bad dude” and is that he is “probably on something.”
     The police on the scene are shown doing nothing for a dying Crutcher for several minutes before an officer begins to render aid.
     Crutcher’s death and the release of the videos have resulted in several days of angry but peaceful demonstrations in Tulsa.
     Shelby’s attorney has publicly said that she was very scared, thought Crutcher was on drugs and that he did not follow commands. Shelby says she pulled the trigger after she feared he was reaching for a weapon in the driver’s window. Crutcher’s family has disputed this account, displaying photos from the helicopter video showing the window was closed.
     Kunzweiler told reporters that Shelby will turn herself in.
     “I do not know why things in this world happen the way that they do,” Kunzweiler said at a press conference. “We need to pray for wisdom and guidance on each of our respective paths in life. Each of us, at the end of our days, will have to account for our actions.”
     Marq Lewis, with We the People Oklahoma, told reporters he was grateful for the district attorney’s filing of charges. The community-activist group has called for criminal charges to be filed for several days.
     Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett applauded Kunzweiler’s office for its handling of the case.
     “We will continue to be transparent and ensure the system carries out its responsibility to provide justice,” he said in a statement Thursday. “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 the second time Tulsa law enforcement has been involved in the high-profile killing of an unarmed black man. Former Tulsa County reserve sheriff’s deputy Robert Bates was sentenced to four years in state prison in June on one count of second-degree manslaughter.
     Bates mistook his pistol for his Taser when he accidentally shot and killed a restrained and unarmed Eric Harris during a gun-sale sting.

%d bloggers like this: