Not Guilty: Jury Acquits Betty Shelby In Terence Crutcher Shooting
TULSA, Oklahoma - A jury acquitted Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby of manslaughter in the death of Terence Crutcher.
The jury reached the decision after more than nine hours of deliberation.
The jury was given the case just after noon Wednesday after hearing closing arguments from the District Attorney and the defense.
Seven hours into deliberations, the jury sent Judge Doug Drummond a note, asking if it could explain its verdict. Drummond said the jurors could announce the verdict in open court but could not give an explanation in open court.
Also during deliberations, Shelby’s team emailed the judge to ask for a mistrial, saying prosecutors used defense exhibits as their own during the trial but then misled the jury during closing arguments.
Drummond overruled the request for a mistrial.
Once the verdict was read, Shelby was escorted out of the courtroom; Shannon McMurray, Shelby's attorney, was seen crying. Shelby and her team left the courtroom without giving a statement.
The jury also showed emotion after reading the verdict. Many jurors started crying once they announced the decision and deputies passed around tissues.
Drummond said the jury was one of the most attentive and engaged he's seen, saying they took the decision very seriously.
After taking time to themselves following the verdict the family of Terence Crutcher spoke to the media.
Tiffany Crutcher, Terence's twin sister, was outspoken saying the verdict was a tough pill to swallow. She said her brother was murdered by Betty Shelby and that police covered it up. She said Shelby was the aggressor, not her brother.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler also spoke with the media after the verdict was read. Kunzweiler thanked the jury and said he respected the process. He said the jury applied law and evidence, which is what they were asked to do.
Many people took to the streets throughout the day. Before the verdict was read, a group of people was outside the courtroom with signs showing support for Shelby. Once the verdict was read, they left the area and supporters of Terence Crutcher took to the streets.
The protesters were passionate, but peaceful, according to News On 6 crews in the field. Many chanted "Hands up, don't shoot," and "No justice, no peace."
A group of about 100 people marched along the streets and stopped at the Mayo Hotel where the believed Shelby was staying. Chanting and protesting continued there as staff put down the shades and covered the doors with fabric.
It's unknown if Shelby was actually at the hotel.
Around 11:30 p.m., a group of protesters at 5th and Denver was blocking the road. Tulsa Police asked them to leave and to stop blocking traffic, they also said chemical agents could be used.
Because of the protesters, Tulsa Police blocked Denver from 4th to 5th streets. They said as long as protesters were in the road they would close that portion of Denver.
Around 12:30 a.m. police reopened Denver as the protesters left the area.
There are no reports of any damages or injuries.
Shelby shot and killed Crutcher, 40, near 36th and Lewis on Friday, September 16, 2016.
Shelby was en route to another call when she encountered Crutcher's SUV stopped in the roadway. She testified Crutcher ignored her commands and walked back to the driver’s side of his vehicle and she shot him when he reached inside the open window.
The shooting drew international attention and sparked protests and rallies in Tulsa in support of both Crutcher and Tulsa Police.
City leaders and Tulsa pastors appealed for calm in the wake of the shooting.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler released a statement saying:
"The rule of law is paramount to an ordered and just society. Men and women have fought and died to protect our way of life. Among the rights we all enjoy in this free society is a right to a trial by jury.
"This case had to be tried by a jury. It was, is and will continue to be a difficult issue to discuss for my community. Men and women from every corner of our community committed themselves to the difficult task of sitting in judgment of one of their fellow citizens – Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby. There can be no doubt that the decision rendered by this jury was only after a long and deliberative process.
"I commend these jurors for their courage to step into a courtroom, give up their own precious time, and dedicate themselves to upholding the rule of law."
Mayor G.T. Bynum and Chief of Police Chuck Jordan scheduled a news conference on the verdict for 10 a.m. Thursday. The mayor released the following statement on the case:
“After considering days of testimony and undergoing its own deliberation, the jury has spoken. I appreciate the jurors’ service to our community and respect their verdict. But this verdict does not alter the course on which we are adamantly set. It does not 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. 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. So we are moving forward together – Tulsans from all parts of the city, police officers and everyday citizens – with a unified purpose to make this a better place for all of us.”
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin also released a statement after the verdict was read Wednesday night saying:
“I ask Oklahomans to respect our criminal justice system and especially the jurors, who heard the evidence from both sides in this case. Those who disagree with the verdict have the right to express their opinions; I just ask that they do so in a peaceful manner. I appeal to Tulsans and others to remain calm. Our thoughts and prayers should be with the Terence Crutcher and Betty Shelby families during this difficult time.”