The police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday has been charged with manslaughter.
Terence Crutcher was stun-gunned by one officer and then shot by Betty Shelby on the evening of September 16, after his SUV stalled in the middle of a road.
Dashcam and aerial footage of the incident showed Crutcher walking away from Shelby with his arms in the air. While the footage does not offer a clear view of when Shelby fired the shot that killed Crutcher, her attorney has said Crutcher was not following police commands and that Shelby opened fire when the man began to reach into his SUV window.
But Crutcher’s family immediately discounted that claim, saying the father of four posed no threat.
The family also pointed to police footage that appears to show Crutcher’s window was rolled up. Police said Crutcher did not have a gun on him or in his vehicle.
Tulsa County’s district attorney, Steve Kunzweiler, said he had filed a first-degree manslaughter charge against Shelby, the BBC reports.
He said before announcing the charges:
The tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Crutcher are on the hearts and minds of many people in this community.
Despite the heightened tensions felt by all – which seemingly beg for an emotional response and reaction – our community has consistently demonstrated a willingness to respect the judicial process.
A court filing by prosecutors said Shelby ‘unlawfully and unnecessarily’ shot Crutcher because he was refusing to comply with her orders.
According to a statement from Doug Campbell, Kunzweiler’s chief investigator, Shelby ‘reacted unreasonably by escalating the situation’ and became ’emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted’.
Kunzweiler said a warrant has been issued for Shelby’s arrest and ‘arrangements are being made for her surrender to the Tulsa County sheriff’s department,’ where she was previously employed.
She faces a minimum of four years in prison.
Unfortunately, the killing of Terence Crutcher is just one in a string of lives needlessly lost to police shootings.