After nine hours of deliberations, a jury acquitted Tulsa (OK) Police Officer Betty Shelby of a first-degree manslaughter charge in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher.
As soon as the judge finished reading the verdict Wednesday night, at least five jurors started crying. The judge’s bailiff gave a woman in the front row a box of tissues. She took one and handed it to a woman behind her who was wiping tears away with her fingers. Then the bailiff went and got more tissues for two other women and a man who were all crying, as well.
About 30 minutes after the verdict was read, Tiffany Crutcher, Terence Crutcher’s sister, gave an emotional statement, saying her brother was murdered and Tulsa Police tried to cover it up, the Tulsa World reports.
Some leaving the courtroom were visibly upset. Outside the courthouse, a crowd of about 100 had gathered. Some were seen holding signs in support of Betty Shelby. Others were angry and chanting, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!”
During their deliberations, the jurors asked District Judge Doug Drummond if they could give a statement in court on how the verdict was reached. The request was denied.
Shelby, 43, was charged Sept. 22 with first-degree manslaughter under two theories: that she shot Crutcher, 40, in the heat of passion, and that the shooting was an unreasonable response to her belief Crutcher was in the process of committing misdemeanor offenses of public intoxication and obstruction.
During defense attorney Shannon McMurray’s remarks, she showed the jury a still image from helicopter video of the shooting that she said showed Crutcher reaching into his stopped SUV at the time Shelby fired a single shot.
“Our officers will continue to have to make split-second decisions so that we can all remain safe and so we can all go home and so they can go home,” McMurray said, asking for an acquittal on both theories of manslaughter.
She said the PCP found in Crutcher’s system, along with information she later learned about his legal history, only confirmed Shelby’s on-scene analysis that he was a threat, but she said him being unarmed made Shelby feel worse, not better, about shooting him.
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