A Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer has been charged with manslaughter after authorities say she shot and killed an unarmed African-American man on Friday, PEOPLE confirms.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler announced Thursday night that officer Betty Shelby is accused of manslaughter in the first-degree for
fatally shooting Terence Crutcher
“In the matter of the death of Terence Crutcher, I determine that the filing of the felony crime of manslaughter in the first-degree against the Tulsa Police officer Betty Shelby is warranted,” Kunzweiler said at a
Kunzweiler said a warrant has been issued for Shelby’s arrest and she will surrender,
according to the Tulsa World
Shelby’s attorney, Scott Wood, could not immediately be reached by PEOPLE for comment. He
Shelby feared for her life before the shooting, given Crutcher’s behavior.
Though Kunzweiler’s office noted that Shelby is presumed innocent under the law, officials allege she “reacted unreasonably by escalating the situation from a confrontation with Mr. Crutcher, who was not responding to verbal commands and was walking away from her with his hands held up, becoming emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted,” according to the
Crutcher, 40, was shot and killed Friday night as he approached his SUV with his arms raised. The incident was caught on police helicopter video and a dashboard camera, and footage from the shooting was released Monday, triggering protests as the latest in a high-profile string of unarmed police shootings in recent years.
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At a news conference Monday, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said officer Tyler Turnbough Tasered Crutcher shortly before a second officer, Shelby, shot him. She told a dispatcher moments before that that Crutcher was not cooperating, Jordan said.
Jordan said Crutcher had no weapon on him or in his SUV. He called video footage of the incident “disturbing.”
About a dozen protestors gathered outside a Tulsa courthouse Monday morning with signs reading “Black Lives Matter” and “Am I Next.”
“I will make this promise to you, we will achieve justice,” Jordan said Monday.
He said at the news conference that Shelby came across Crutcher while on her way to another call. She requested back up, saying that Crutcher was not cooperating, Jordan said.
In footage of the shooting, an officer aboard a helicopter above can be heard saying, “He’s got his hands up there for her now. This guy is still walking and following commands.”
(It’s not clear from the released video what orders police may have given Crutcher before he was killed, or what the police overheard may have been able to hear from below.)
On Monday, Crutcher’s twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, made a plea to press charges.
“The ‘big bad dude’ was my twin brother. That ‘big bad dude’ was a father,” she said, according to the
“That ‘big bad dude’ was a son. That ‘big bad dude’ was enrolled at Tulsa Community College, just wanting to make us proud,” Tiffany said. “That ‘big bad dude’ loved God. That ‘big bad dude’ was at church singing with all of his flaws, every week. That ‘big bad dude,’ that’s who he was.”