Betty Jo Shelby, a White Tulsa, Okla., police officer who is charged in the shooting death of Black motorist Terrence Crutcher, says race played no role in her decision to fire at him — but she’s the only one who gets to tell the tale.
“What I based everything on was his actions, his behaviors. Race had nothing to do with my decision making,” she told CBS News’ “60 Minutes” in an interview to be aired on Sunday. She blames Crutcher for causing his own death because he failed to follow her commands when he was pulled over by police in the fatal incident last September. “I’m feeling that his intent is to do me harm and I keep thinking, ‘Don’t do this. Please don’t do this. Don’t make this happen,’ ” Shelby said.
She maintains that she suspected that he was intoxicated, saying he appeared “zombie like,” and an autopsy did find PCP in his system. But dashcam video and an aerial video of the incident show Crutcher with his arms in the air as he walked toward his car before he was shot. She says she opened fire when he reached into his car, but it seems to be unclear from the video that he was doing so. Tulsa police say Crutcher was unarmed and did not have a firearm in his vehicle.
The Tulsa district attorney later charged her with manslaughter, saying that her actions were “unreasonable,” according to a court document. The shooting was one of several that touched off mass outrage over the shooting deaths of unarmed African-Americans by police across the nation.
Crutcher’s twin sister Tiffany refutes Shelby’s version of what happened and says her brother was compliant with police, which can be seen on the video.
“Of course, she’s saying everything that she’s supposed to say to defend herself. What we saw on that video is what my dad always taught my brothers, taught us to do if we were pulled over by a police officer,” says Crutcher. “Put your hands in the air and put your hands on the car. And my brother did what my father taught us.
“We need our men and women in blue. But at the end of the day, they’re not warriors. They’re supposed to be our guardians,” said Crutcher.
The interview airs Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on CBS.