Tulsa Police Chief: Shelby Trial Won't Change Relationship With D.A.'s Office

Monday, May 22nd 2017, 3:45 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan cleared up any doubts about the relationship between the Tulsa Police Department and the D.A.'s Office following the Betty Shelby trial.

Special Coverage: Betty Shelby Manslaughter Trial

Jordan said the departments will continue working together every day for the people of Tulsa.

"There's not going to be anything that's going to deter us from collaborating, working well, cooperating with the District Attorney's Office in order to receive the quality prosecutions for people who victimize our citizens," Jordan said.

District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler released a similar statement, saying:

"As I have stated previously, my office last year handled over 14,000 felony and misdemeanor cases.  We also handled thousands of traffic-related matters along with several hundred juvenile cases.  Each of those matters involve a victim – whether the victim is a merchant, an individual, or society as a whole.  I am confident that law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office will continue to focus our attention on those individual cases to insure that the affected victims are afforded justice.  Our public should expect nothing less."

But Jordan also wanted to clear the air about some of the arguments the prosecution made during the Shelby trial.

 "A big question was the video. Why was it shown to her before? I will say first, Major Cities Chiefs, that's one of their best practices they recommend," Jordan said.

One point of contention was Sergeant Dave Walker showing Shelby the dashcam and helicopter video before her interview. Jordan said it was not special treatment, as prosecution implied, but because the Major Cities Chiefs Association recommends it.

We looked into the Major Cities Chiefs Association's 2016 report on Officer-Involved Shootings. It recommends "the best time to show video evidence is after the free-recall period, but before asking detailed questions about the incident."

It's unknown whether Shelby got the opportunity to recall the shooting incident on her own before seeing the video, as recommended.

The U.S. Department of Justice's "Officer-Involved Shootings: A Guide for Law Enforcement Leaders" states it does not have a clear policy on the issue.

"The issue of whether to permit officers to view videotape of shooting incidents, and if so, whether this should occur before or after providing a verbal statement or filing a report, remains unresolved. Some argue that allowing an officer to view a videotape before making a statement may allow him or her to adjust the statement to conform to the video. Others contend that this process enhances an officer's memory and allows the officer to better recall actions or events that took place," the guide reads on page 20 in its Post-Incident Investigation section.

Scott Wood, Shelby's attorney, confirms that showing an officer a video of the incident before getting a statement is standard practice at most police departments, including Tulsa's.

Kunzweiler drew criticism from the local Fraternal Order of Police after he filed charges against Shelby before the police department investigation into the officer-involved shooting was complete. The FOP filed a grievance against Kunzweiler saying he "acted unfairly and unethically by charging Betty Shelby when he did."

The Crutcher family accused the Tulsa Police Department of corruption after the DA's office lost its case against her. Kunzweiler released a statement on May 18, 2017 that the D.A.'s Office did not agree with the family's allegations.