Attorneys representing the state and Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby made opening statements Wednesday after a jury was seated.
Opening statements are not considered evidence in the trial but rather map out what prosecuting and defense attorneys plan to present as evidence in the upcoming days.
News On 6 anchor and crime reporter Lori Fullbright made the following notes during the opening statements.
Opening Statement For Prosecution
District Attorney Kevin Gray delivered the opening statement for the prosecution.
- Gray stated the jury will spend the next week hearing about what happened in just a few minutes last September.
- Gray said it was usual day for Terence Crutcher and Officer Shelby.
- Shelby had just finished dinner and was going to back a domestic call when she noticed a man acting differently - a vehicle running but abandoned and blocking traffic.
- Gray said Shelby asks Crutcher questions about vehicle. She's a drug recognition expert and thought he was high or mentally ill.
- Gray says Crutcher puts hands up but keeps walking, goes to his vehicle, doesn't follow her repeated commands to stop. She radioed in.
- Gray says other officers arrive in cars, in helicopter. Crutcher still not complying. Shelby pulls gun, another officer pulls Taser. Both officers say Crutcher reached into window, and they both fired same time.
- No gun was found in vehicle or on Crutcher. Gray says other officers "clear" vehicle to make sure it was safe, block oncoming traffic, then get medical bag to help Crutcher.
- Gray says Shelby was taken to Gilcrease division, photographed, had her gun confiscated for evidence, was given another gun then sent home.
- Gray says Shelby gave statement days later. Says detectives showed her the videos of what happened, then questioned her. Gray says Shelby broke down during interview, crying, collapsed on floor.
- Gray told jury they would have to decide if what happened in those few minutes is worthy of a guilty verdict.
Opening Statement For The Defense
Shannon McMurray gave the opening statement in Betty Shelby's defense.
- McMurray said only person who acted out of fear in this case was District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler who filed charges too fast.
- McMurray said DA filed before police investigation was done, had his own investigator on the case, rather than evaluating law. McMurray said she has tried over and over to talk to the DA investigator, but they've been hiding him from her. She said he will testify.
- McMurray says Shelby 10-year veteran who never before fired weapon on duty, has 2,400 hours training, and is chosen to train others.
- McMurray says Shelby is drug recognition expert, on elite dive team, is an EMT.
- McMurray says a woman witness who called 911 saw Crutcher screaming, "it's gonna blow." She saw him reach under his seat. She feared he had a gun and ran.
- McMurray says Shelby couldn't run because she swore an oath to protect citizens, property, with her life if need be.
- McMurray says another 911 caller said, "I think something dangerous is going to happen", Crutcher behavior sent chills down spine.
- McMurray says Crutcher keeps putting hands in his pockets, refuses to communicate with Shelby, refuses related commands, to stop.
- McMurray says police training doesn't say fist fight or jump on suspect's back in this case. Shelby pulled weapon.
- McMurray says Shelby dealt with Crutcher three minutes, 24 seconds before she and other officer fired gun and Taser at same time, as he reached. McMurray says Crutcher's vehicle window halfway down. DA agrees with that, ending debate over if window up at time.
- McMurray says Shelby's actions not unreasonable, just because her voice was raised in stress. She said you can be afraid and courageous.
- McMurray says officers not trained to wait to see what someone pulls from window or vehicle b/c action beats reaction every time. McMurray says most officers wait few days to give statement, says they also have right not to talk like any citizen, but Shelby did.
- McMurray says Shelby did get emotional during her statement, which is normal reaction to taking a life. McMurray says it is not unusual to show videos before asking questions, that works that way for all citizens.
- McMurray says is unusual for chief to show video evidence to Crutcher family so fast, for DA to charge before video enhanced by OSBI. McMurray says chopper pilot made comment about looks like a bad dude because he had never seen someone so blatantly refuse to comply. McMurray says officer Shelby never heard any comments made in police chopper.
- McMurray says Shelby offered to help Crutcher but was not allowed to, since she pulled trigger
Special Coverage: Betty Shelby Manslaughter Trial