Sgt. Dave Walker: 'I will vehemently disagree that we covered up anything'
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) -- Tulsa Police Sgt. Dave Walker responded to criticisms Thursday of how the department handled the investigation into Terence Crutcher's homicide, saying allegations of a cover-up are false, plain and simple.
"I will vehemently disagree that we covered up anything," said Walker.
Crutcher's family has alleged Walker and other homicide investigators gave Officer Betty Shelby special treatment in the wake of Crutcher's shooting, allowing Shelby to review police video before she made her statement days later.
Walker said in a news conference Thursday that department policy dictates that all officers involved in critical incidents be allowed to review police video. He said policy dictates his job, whether he agrees or not.
"We are the best at investigating homicides, whether it's our own or not," said Walker.
The lead homicide investigator for the Tulsa Police Department said the investigation should not be what the Crutcher family and others are attacking in this case.
Shelby was acquitted of first-degree manslaughter in the heat of passion. Walker said on the stand the district attorney didn't consult him or his investigators before filing charges, something Walker said was uncommon. He also said he didn't think charges were warranted.
"I said that night it was unwinnable," said Walker. "Twelve to nothing, the DA got run ruled."
Walker says despite tension with the district attorney's office throughout the case, they will continue working together as there are still bad guys who need to be prosecuted.
District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler released a statement shortly after Walker's news conference, saying he has great respect for the work the homicide department does.
Today my office was informed of statements made by the family of Terence Crutcher and their attorneys that were attributed to the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office. While my prayers continue to be with the Crutcher family, I feel the need to set the record straight regarding issues they raised today:
1. I have great respect for the work of Sgt. Dave Walker. I have for many years and I still do. He has done an exemplary job for 35 years as a Tulsa police officer, and currently leads a homicide unit with one of the highest solve rates in the nation. Sgt. Walker and his team work tirelessly for our city and our community, and he is well qualified to continue in his present job. I adamantly disagree with any call for his resignation.
2. It is absolutely false to assert that the Tulsa County District Attorney’s office believes that there is corruption within the Tulsa Police Department. Throughout the trial, no representative of my office ever called the Tulsa Police Department or any of its officers “corrupt.” No representative of my office ever implied that anyone besides the Defendant had committed any illegal act.
3. During the recent trial of Officer Betty Shelby, all of the evidence that was proper for the jury to consider was presented in open court. The trial was covered by a number of local and national media outlets, and citizens were present in court on a daily basis to observe the proceedings.
We prosecuted this case as we do every other case – by pointing out discrepancies in the facts, testimony and investigation. Those issues are proper for a jury to consider in any case, and have nothing to do with my opinions about the Tulsa Police Department or its officers.
On Thursday, Crutcher's twin sister, Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, called for Walker's termination and alleged there is corruption in the police department.
Walker said he will go when he chooses to go.
"When it's time for me to go I will leave," said Walker. "I'm not leaving now."
Walker said three years ago he said in an interview he planned to retire in May 2017, but as of now he's staying.
In the meantime, he says he agrees with the Crutcher family that changes must be made moving forward. For one, officers need more training on interacting with drug addicts and intoxicated individuals. Walker said Terence Crutcher was a PCP addict, and his family knew as much, adding that someone in the Crutcher family reported his drug use not long before his death.
"I am sorry that the Crutcher family is going through this," said Walker. "I am sorry our family is going through this. And if going through this makes us better as a police department makes us better as a city, then as the Crutcher family said, his death will not be in vain."
For his part, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said any complaints about a police officer can be reported to the department, which released a statement Thursday evening in response to the Crutcher family's allegations.
Chief Jordan believes that Sgt. Walker is a highly respected homicide investigator and supervisor, and he has never been accused of malfeasance or a violation of ethics. If there are specific complaints regarding a Tulsa police officer, it can be reported to Internal Affairs via the Tulsa Police website, or in person at Police Headquarters or a division. We want to hear any concerns our residents have regarding police actions. All complaints will be thoroughly investigated. Tulsans deserve the highest standards, and we will work to attain them.
Read more stories about Terence Crutcher and Betty Shelby.