Tulsa Officer Bonds Out In Terence Crutcher Shooting Case
TULSA, Oklahoma - Tulsa Police officer Betty Shelby was booked into the Tulsa County jail early Friday and posted bond shortly thereafter.
According to jail records, Shelby was booked at 1:11 a.m. on Friday, September 23, 2016. She posted a $50,000 bond and was released 20 minutes later.
Tulsa County District Attorney Stephen Kunzweiler announced Thursday afternoon he charged Officer Betty Shelby with first-degree manslaughter in the death of Terence Crutcher.
The formal charge says Officer Betty Shelby's actions last Friday, which resulted from her fear of Terence Crutcher, were unreasonable.
"I determined that the filing of the felony crime of manslaughter in the first degree against Tulsa Police officer Betty Shelby is warranted," he said.
It took Kunzweiler less than a week to review evidence and decide that Shelby shot and killed Crutcher, she committed a crime.
"I have had a judge review a probable cause affidavit, a warrant has been issued for her arrest," Kunzweiler said.
In the DA's affidavit, it says Shelby was informed by another officer standing to her left that he had his Taser ready prior to Shelby firing her gun.
It also says Crutcher reached into his driver's side window when both the Taser and single gunshot were fired.
Afterward, Shelby gave an interview to TPD where she states she was in fear for her life and thought Crutcher was going to kill her.
However, the DA says in the affidavit, Shelby's fear caused her to unreasonably escalate the situation from a confrontation where Crutcher was not responding to verbal commands - to being emotionally involved and over reacted.
"We need to pray for wisdom and guidance, on each of our respective paths in life. Each of us at the end of our days will have to account for our own actions," Kunzweiler said.
Kunzweiler said it's important to note that despite the heightened tension in the city over the shooting death of Terence Crutcher, the community has remained peaceful.
"Our community has consistently demonstrated the willingness to respect the judicial process," Kunzweiler said.
Courtrooms must be the source of justice, he said. He called for ministers to lend "guiding hands" to the public in the wake of the shooting.
Kunzweiler declined to answer questions following the announcement.
Kunzweiler said a warrant has been issued for Shelby, a Tulsa police officer since 2011. If convicted, the first-degree manslaughter charge carries a minimum punishment of four years in prison.
According to Shelby's attorney, the officer left town recently due to death threats, but returned to turn herself in.
From the Oklahoma Supreme Court Network:
Homicide is manslaughter in the first degree in the following cases:
1. When perpetrated without a design to effect death by a person while engaged in the commission of a misdemeanor.
2. When perpetrated without a design to effect death, and in a heat of passion, but in a cruel and unusual manner, or by means of a dangerous weapon; unless it is committed under such circumstances as constitute excusable or justifiable homicide.
3. When perpetrated unnecessarily either while resisting an attempt by the person killed to commit a crime, or after such attempt shall have failed.
Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett released a statement after charges were filed saying:
"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."
Civil rights activist, Reverend Al Sharpton also released a statement on the charges, saying:
"“The first-degree manslaughter charges against this officer are a swift step in the right direction as we pursue justice in the death of Terence Crutcher. But we also look forward to a further investigation of all the officers at the scene when this tragedy occurred and we are anxious to know whether the conduct of these other officers will be subject to disciplinary actions or legal proceedings.”
Sharpton held a news conference with the Crutcher family in New York Wednesday. He also announced he would be in Tulsa Tuesday, September 27, for what he's calling a National Day of Justice.
Tulsa County jail records show Betty Shelby has a court appearance set for September 30th.