Mayor after Shelby verdict: 'Greatest issue' facing Tulsa is racial disparity

Mayor G.T. Bynum speaks to the media after Officer Betty Shelby is acquitted of manslaughter. (KTUL)

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and Police Chief Chuck Jordan held a press conference Thursday in the aftermath of Officer Betty Shelby's acquittal in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher.

Bynum focused heavily on what he views as the biggest single issue facing the city of Tulsa: racial disparity.

"We recognize that the greatest issue that we need help with is racial disparity in Tulsa," Bynum said.

A jury deliberated for more than nine hours Wednesday before issuing a "not guilty" verdict for Shelby, who was charged with first-degree manslaughter after shooting and killing Terence Crutcher in September 2016. Crutcher, a black man, was unarmed at the time of the shooting.

"I would remind Tulsans that our history shows us African Americans in Tulsa have not been the instigators of lawlessness and violence," Bynum said. "They have been the victims of them."

Bynum also talked about the city's efforts to improve the relationship between the community and law enforcement. He said the city is moving forward with efforts to increase community policing, and the city will hire a large number of police officers before the end of the year.

"We will have body cameras fully deployed by the end of this year," he said.

RELATED | Crutcher family on 'not guilty' verdict: Terence was the real victim

Shelby's acquittal led to overnight protests downtown, but the demonstrations remained peaceful, and no one was arrested.

"We're prepared for anything," Jordan said. "What we're expecting is actually what we got last night: peaceful protests."

Jordan said Shelby's employment with the Tulsa Police Department is being "evaluated."

Bynum also issued a statement Wednesday about the jury's verdict. He said he appreciated the jurors' service, but the decision didn't change "our recognition of the racial disparities that have afflicted Tulsa historically."

"It does not change our work to institute community policing measures that empower citizens to work side by side with police officers in making our community safer," Bynum said. "And no one has been calling for the resources to implement community policing more actively over a longer period of time than the men and women of our Tulsa Police Department."

Read more about the Terence Crutcher shooting death.

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