By Frederick H. Lowe
Betty Shelby, a former Tulsa, Oklahoma, cop, hasn’t skipped a beat since shooting to death an unarmed black man.
Shelby shot to death Terence Crutcher, a motorist who had his hands in air on September 16, 2016, after his SUV stalled.
Shelby claimed she shot Crutcher for two reasons. He was reaching inside his vehicle and he wasn’t obeying her commands. Believing he was reaching inside the SUV for a gun, Shelby fired, hitting him in the upper chest. Police did not find a weapon.
Benjamin Crump, the Crutcher family attorney, said Terence couldn’t have been reaching inside the car because the window was rolled up.
The District Attorney charged Shelby with first-degree manslaughter and she was placed on unpaid leave. A jury deliberated nine hours before acquitting her in May.
Shelby returned to work two days later, collecting almost $36,000 in back pay.
She resigned from the department in July and joined Rogers County Sheriff’s Department as a reserve deputy with great fanfare in which she made a speech.(see video below)
Scott Walton, a sheriff and in Rogers County, which is in Claremore, Oklahoma, said Shelby did the right thing when she killed Crutcher because he was a PCP addict and a gang member with a long criminal record.
Crutcher’s twin sister, Tiffany, said her brother was studying music at Tulsa Community College and he sang in the church choir. He also was a father.
Crutcher’s father, Rev. Joey Crutcher, said Shelby got away with murder.
In an open letter posted on the sheriff’s Facebook page, Walton accused Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler and Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan of “dealing an incredible blow to the entire American law enforcement community” after Shelby was charged.
And that isn’t all. District Judge William LaFortune also ordered Crutcher’s deadly shooting expunged from her record. Any documents involving the deadly shooting will only be accessible by court order.
Crutcher’s family has filed a lawsuit against the Tulsa Police Department and its police chief.
Tulsa legislators are working to name a scholarship foundation after Crutcher. They have received a number of death threats for their efforts.