Fight possible over Terence Crutcher's estate, right to file wrongful death claim

Attorney Dan Smolen is representing Frenchel Johnson, the widow of Terence Crutcher. (KTUL)

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- An attorney who says he's representing the estate of Terence Crutcher spoke Monday about the possibility of a wrongful death suit.

Dan Smolen says his law firm is conducting a civil rights investigation into Crutcher's shooting death by Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby, who is now charged with first-degree manslaughter.

Smolen publicly asked Tulsa police to release any additional footage of the Sept. 16 shooting. The department has already released dashcam video from three police cruisers as well as video from the police helicopter.

The attorney questions whether Officer Shelby, who police say did not activate her dashcam before the shooting, was properly equipped to record the incident or if she violated policy by failing to press record.

Smolen is also requesting helicopter logs to see if it's common practice for Shelby's husband to be in the police chopper while she's on ground patrol, as was the case on the day of the shooting.

SPECIAL SECTION | Terence Crutcher shooting death

Smolen says his firm is representing Crutcher's estate and Frenchel Johnson, who says she was married to Crutcher for 16 years and together they had three children. Court documents show Johnson was named a special administrator of Crutcher's estate one week after his death.

Crutcher's parents have custody of the couple's children for whom a GoFundMe campaign has raised nearly $166,000.

Reverend Joey and Leanne Crutcher have filed a motion to vacate the order issuing Johnson special administrator of the estate and are seeking to be named in her place. According to the filing, Johnson "failed to disclose to the court that she is a convicted felon and that (Joey and Leanna Crutcher) have legal custody of the 3 minor children of their son, Terence Crutcher, and Ms. Johnson."

Crutcher's parents say Johnson "was disqualified, ineligible, incompetent, lacked standing" to serve as special administrator of the estate, pursuant to Oklahoma Statutes, according to their filing.

Crutcher's parents also say their son was not married to Johnson legally or by common law.

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