A White Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer who fatally shot an unarmed Black motorist last year has been found not guilty in his death, CNN reports.
Officer Betty Shelby was acquitted by a jury after nine hours of deliberations. The September incident was among a number of police-involved shootings that garnered national attention. Crutcher’s death increased concerns of how police interact with citizens, particularly Black men.
On September 16, 2016, Crutcher’s SUV stalled in the middle of the street. A witness called 911 and said a man was running away from it, and warned that it could blow up. During her testimony, Shelby said she arrived on the scene and cleared the vehicle, not seeing anyone inside. As she turned to go back to her patrol car, she claims she saw Crutcher walking toward her, alternating between placing his hands in his pockets and putting them in the air.
Shelby says Crutcher ignored her commands to “show me your hands” and that he was sweating profusely and smelled of PCP chemicals.
Despite video footage showing Crutcher walking away from Shelby with his hands visibly in the arm, the officer said she feared for her life.
“We’re not trained to see what comes out of a car,” Shelby said. “We’re trained to stop a threat, and by all indications, he was a threat.”
At that point, Shelby shot Crutcher and her partner fired his taser.
Before issuing the verdict late Wednesday, the nine White jurors and three Black jurors asked to explain their verdict in court.
The judge denied their request, but told them they were free to disclose publicly after the trial concluded how they arrived at their decision.
Following the verdict, Shelby made a silent exit as Crutcher’s family members tearfully left the courtroom.
“This is definitely a tough pill to swallow,” his sister, Tiffany Crutcher, said. “Terence’s hands were up. Terence was not an imminent threat. Terence did not attack her. Terence didn’t charge at her. Terence was not the aggressor.”
Crutcher’s father, Joseph Crutcher, told reporters that the verdict was unjust.
“Let it be known that I believe in my heart that Betty Shelby got away with murder,” he said. “I have four grandchildren that are at home now, that have lost their daddy.”
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