Tulsa cop who shot Terence Crutcher charged with 1st-degree manslaughter

Demonstrators covered the courthouse lawn Thursday, Sept. 22 after the announcement of charges for Officer Betty Shelby in the shooting of Terence Crutcher. (KTUL)

TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- A warrant was issued Thursday for the arrest of Officer Betty Shelby, the Tulsa police officer who fatally shot Terence Crutcher Sept. 16.

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler announced a first-degree manslaughter charge against Shelby at a Thursday afternoon news conference.

"In the matter of the death of Terence Crutcher, I determined that the filing of the felony crime of manslaughter in the first degree against Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby is warranted," Kunzweiler said Thursday. "Officer Shelby, although now charged, is presumed to be innocent until a judge or a jury determines otherwise."

Crutcher, 40, was shot by Shelby after his family says his SUV stalled in the middle of a north Tulsa street. Shelby's attorney said Crutcher wasn't following commands, wouldn't raise his arms and was reaching into the SUV's window when the officer fired.

VIDEO | Police chief says Crutcher was unarmed when shot by officer

Police video released just days after the shooting dispelled those claims, at least in part, showing Crutcher with his arms in the air walking slowly to his SUV.

Crutcher family attorney Benjamin Crump also says, after enhancing the video and reviewing it frame by frame, Crutcher could not have been reaching into the vehicle because the window appears up in those images, covered with blood after the shooting.

A police source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, disputed Crump, saying Crutcher's window was at least partially down at the time of the shooting, but the investigation was still underway at the time.

SEE ALSO | Family attorney: Drugs or not, lethal force not necessary on Terence Crutcher

Shelby was on paid administrative leave. She is now on leave without pay pending the outcome of the trial.

Tiffany Crutcher, Terence Crutcher's twin sister, and the family's attorneys spoke shortly after Kunzweiler, saying they are thankful to investigators and Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan for their transparency throughout the investigation.

Attorney and family friend Demario Solomon-Simmons said they've known since watching the police video there was no reason to shoot Crutcher and they are happy charges were brought, but the family wants and deserves more justice -- the vigorous prosecution and conviction of Officer Shelby.

"You cannot kill unarmed citizens, that's not the American way," said Solomon-Simmons.

Tiffany Crutcher said the family is still grieving, but Crutcher's spirit will live on.

"Today we choose to celebrate Terence's life," she said. "We are going to break the chains of injustice."

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett commended investigators and the DA's office for a quick resolution. He also thanked the community for remaining peaceful in the days since the shooting.

Our Tulsa Police Department worked quickly to provide all the information to the District Attorney. I appreciate their efforts as well as the District Attorney’s usual thorough evaluation of the rules of law for which we are all accountable. These are important steps to ensure that justice and accountability prevails.
We will continue to be transparent and ensure the system carries out its responsibility to provide justice.
We also appreciate the expedited work by Governor Mary Fallin and the State Medical Examiner’s office.
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.
-- Mayor Dewey F. Bartlett Jr.

From the beginning, the Crutcher family joined city leaders in asking that any demonstrations remain peaceful -- and the community has so far done just that.

Hundreds have gathered at times, calling for justice for Crutcher and the firing of Officer Shelby, but at no time have the demonstrations turned violent.

Tulsa police say they are aware of demonstrations across the area now that charges have been filed but they have no knowledge of any of them being anything other than peaceful. Outside the courthouse Thursday afternoon, several officers joined hands with demonstrators in a show of solidarity.

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