Tulsa, OK — Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby fatally shot 40-year-old Terence Crutcher in September when he experienced car trouble after leaving night classes at Tulsa Community College. On Monday, Shelby testified in her own defense to attempt to justify the killing of this unarmed man — and shamelessly blamed him — stating she has “no regrets” about what happened.
Shelby, who faces up to life in prison if convicted of first-degree manslaughter, blames Crutcher for his own death.
Incidentally, this is not the first time this killer cop blamed the victim. In a brazenly despicable fashion, Shelby went on 60-minutes in April and explained to host Bill Whitaker that Crutcher — who had no weapon on him or in his car — caused her to fear for her life, and her only option was taking his life.
“His hands were in the air from all views,” pastor Rodney Goss of the Morning Star Baptist Church, who viewed footage from both dash cams and a police helicopter prior to the public release, told the Tulsa World in September. “It was not apparent from any angle at any point he lunged, came toward, aggressively attacked, or made any sudden movements that would have been considered a threat or life-threatening toward the officer.”
The video evidence was so compelling that several days after it was released, a warrant was issued for Shelby’s arrest.
Apparently, at least to this fearful officer, putting your hands in the air is suspicious and grounds for escalation and violence.
On the sixth day of trial, Shelby testified that videos she saw in training indicated that if suspects are allowed to reach into their cars, “they can pull out guns and kill you,” the Tulsa World reported.
“If you hesitate and delay, then you die,” Shelby reportedly told her attorney, Shannon McMurray, of Tulsa. “It impacted me so much that I saw the video in my head during that situation.”
But Crutcher had his hands up.
“He’s got his hands up for her now,” the pilot, who happened to be Shelby’s husband, says of Crutcher, adding a moment later that the man appears uncooperative and may need to be tased.
Officer Tyler Turnbough, who had arrived as backup, took the less lethal route and deployed his Taser against Crutcher. However, Shelby fired before the electric jolt could even knock him to the ground. Also, video from one patrol car’s dash cam and one that is seen from a police helicopter circling above clearly shows Crutcher not acting aggressively as the cops surround and then murder him.
During the trial, Shelby said she was trained to not “let them pull their arm back out” and that deadly force can be warranted. She said she fired “because I feared for my life.”
“I did everything I could to stop this,” Shelby said Monday. “Crutcher’s death is his fault.”
The mindset that it takes to believe this unarmed man is responsible for his own death is truly frightening. When Crutcher was killed, he posed no threat, was not violent, and was merely stopped on the roadside. Acting oddly is hardly a reason to deploy deadly force — much less attempt to justify it.
Shelby’s defense attorneys have accused prosecutors of bringing the charges against her because she is white and Crutcher is black. The defense will call its final witness this week and the jury will ultimately decide Shelby’s fate. All week long, the defense has focused on Crutcher’s past, noting two previous arrests, one from 22 years ago, in which Crutcher was charged with public intoxication and obstruction for being non-compliant.
In April, Whitaker asked Tiffany Crutcher, Terrance’s sister, how she felt about Shelby’s tactics of blaming her brother for his own death.
Whitaker asked, “Officer Shelby says that your brother’s actions caused his own death. What do you say to that?”
Tiffany Crutcher’s response was heartbreaking. “My brother’s dead because she didn’t pause. And because she didn’t pause, my family, we’ve had to pause. We’ve had to stop. We’ve had to lay down every single night with tears in our eyes. There was absolutely no justification whatsoever, with all the backup, for Officer Shelby to pull that trigger. No justification whatsoever.”