The Tulsa County district attorney filed a manslaughter charge against Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby this afternoon, less than one week after she shot and killed unarmed Terence Crutcher.
DA Steve Kunzweiler announced the charges while urging the public to remember that people are innocent until proven guilty.
From the Tulsa World:
If convicted, Shelby could face at least four years in prison. The maximum sentence for that felony count would be life in prison.
The charges indicate that Shelby “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 over reacted.”
Editorial: Geneva Smith, 84-year-old pepper sprayed by Muskogee police, deserved better by William W. Savage III
According to an affidavit, Shelby made statements that she was in fear for her life and was yelling at Crutcher for him to stop and get on his knees, though it was unlikely she believed him to be in possession of a firearm.
“Although Mr. Crutcher was wearing baggy clothes, Officer Shelby was not able to see any weapons or bulge indicating (a) weapon was present,” the affidavit reads.
The Crutcher shooting immediately vaulted to national attention after video of the incident was released. NonDoc wrote an editorial Tuesday arguing that Shelby must be prosecuted.
Latest of several problematic police encounters
Oklahoma has had its share of controversial police actions against minorities, including two substantial convictions in Oklahoma County.
In 2014, former Del City officer Randy Trent Harrison was sentenced to four years in prison for shooting an 18-year-old.
This year, former OKCPD officer Daniel Holtzclaw was sentenced on dozens of counts for sexual misconduct with black women in Oklahoma City’s Northeast side. More recently, a Muskogee police officer pepper sprayed an 84-year-old black woman in her own home.