Crutcher family finds peace with church family as Betty Shelby heads to trial

Betty Shelby says she considered the unarmed 40-year-old father of four a threat when she shot and Terence Crutcher. (KTUL)

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- Officer Betty Shelby has accused Terence Crutcher of causing his own death by not following commands and acting erratically on the day they met.

Shelby says she considered the unarmed 40-year-old father of four a threat when she shot and killed him. She was charged with first-degree manslaughter.

As the case goes to trial, still today his family is coping with the loss, finding comfort in their church where Crutcher is missed the most.

MORE | Is Tulsa ready for the attention brought on by Officer Betty Shelby's manslaughter trial?

Reverend Joey Crutcher still plays, sings and ministers while caring for three of the children his son left behind.

On this day at New Heights Baptist Church, Crutcher's two daughters sing a song their father once sang in the same choir stand.

"This is one of the favorite songs that my son Terence (sang)," said Rev. Joey Crutcher.

Crutcher's voice was silenced after Shelby fired her gun, but video of the shooting gave way to public outrage as his church family came together.

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"My faith has gotten me through this and when I hear his songs it brings me to tears," said Harvey Titus.

Titus stood next to Crutcher in the tenor section, and Pastor Barbara Shannon met Crutcher when he was just 12 years old.

"Terence was just like a son, he was just like one of my kids," said Shannon.

So when Crutcher ran into troubles with life and with the law, Shannon says she was often his counselor.

"He was really trying," she said. "I really believe. In every area he was really trying, even though he didn't quite get it right the way he wanted to, but he kept trying."

Shelby has said she believed Crutcher was on drugs when she encountered him in the middle of the street near 36th Street North and North Peoria Sept. 16, 2016. A toxicology test performed during his autopsy showed PCP in his system.

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Despite his troubles, Shannon says Crutcher kept coming back to the sanctuary to study, to work and to sing.

"It was like singing with my brother," she said.

Now Crutcher's two daughters pay tribute to their dad as Shelby heads to trial.

"I just want to thank my two little granddaughters," said Rev. Joey Crutcher.

The family stays close to the church.

"A lot of times when we are singing I can feel him next to me, he is still here," said Crutcher's father.

The family is standing on faith, hoping for justice and praying for peace.

Read more stories about Terence Crutcher and Betty Shelby.

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