Officer Betty Shelby: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Betty Shelby’s mugshot. (Tulsa County Jail)

The Oklahoma police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man whose car broke down in the road on September 16 has been charged with first-degree manslaughter.

Officer Betty Shelby, 42, fired the single shot that killed Terence Crutcher, 40, in Tulsa, the Associated Press reports.

He was taken to the hospital, where he later died.

You can read more about the charge here.

In the affidavit filed in the case, which you can read here, investigators said Shelby told them she “feared for her life,” and thought Crutcher “was going to kill her.”

The investigator wrote that Shelby, “reacted unreasonably by escalating the situation from a confrontation with Mr. Crutcher, who was not responding to verbal commands and was walking away from her with his hands up, becoming emotionally involved to the point that she over reacted. Although Mr. Crutcher was wearing baggy clothes, Officer Shelby was not able to see any weapons or bulges indicating and [sic] weapon was present.”

Tulsa Police said the shooting occurred near 36th Street and Lewis Avenue about 7:30 p.m., KOTV reports.

Crutcher’s SUV had stalled in the middle of the road, and police arrived to check on the situation, according to the news station.

Police Chief Chuck Jordan said Shelby was on the way to another call when she encountered Crutcher and his vehicle. Jordan, who said he is unable to release many details because of open investigation, said Shelby requested backup because she was “not having cooperation” from Crutcher.

The officer who deployed his Taser was named as Tyler Turnbough. He is not facing charges.

First-degree manslaughter is a felony that carries a minimum sentence of four years in prison and a maximum of life.

Shelby turned herself in Friday morning. She was booked into the Tulsa County Jail at 1:11 a.m. and released at 1:23 a.m. after posting $50,000 bond, according to online records.

Here’s what you need to know about the shooting and Shelby:


1. Dashcam & Helicopter Videos Show Crutcher Being Shot Near His SUV by Shelby

You can watch the dashcam video released by police above or by clicking here if the player does not load. The video is graphic. The shooting occurs about the 1:40 mark.

The video shows Terence Crutcher walking toward his SUV with his arms held in the air, as Officer Betty Jo Shelby follows behind him with her gun drawn and a second officer approaches with his Taser drawn. He has his back to her and the other officer. Crutcher appears to lean toward the SUV with Shelby at his side and the other officer behind him. A single shot can then be heard and other officers run toward the SUV.

Crutcher then collapses to the ground and Shelby yells into the radio, “Shots fired!”

The Tulsa Police Department released other videos from the shooting. The first video shows the scene of the shooting from a police helicopter. In the video, one of the helicopter pilots says, Crutcher, “looks like a bad dude … might be on something.” The video is very graphic:

You can watch other videos here.

A pastor who watched dash camera video says Crutcher had his hands “in the air,” before he was shot, the Tulsa World reports.

Pastor Rodney Goss, of the Morning Star Baptist Church, also said the video does not show Crutcher reaching into his vehicle. He said Crutcher was walking toward it.

“His hands were in the air from all views,” Goss told the Tulsa World. “It was not apparent at any angle from any point that he lunged, came toward, aggressively attacked, or made any sudden movements that would have been considered a threat or life-threatening toward the officer.”

Goss added that he did not see a weapon. In the video, one officer can be seen deploying his Taser and the other officer then fires her gun.

“It wasn’t a matter of minutes, it was a matter of moments,” Goss told the newspaper. “As quick as the officer released the Taser from his hand, Terence was falling to the ground having already been shot.”

Goss said it took several moments before anyone checked on Crutcher.

“After having been shot, a couple minutes it appears, but it seemed like a lifetime, went by before anyone actually checked with him as far as pulse — as far as whatever the case may be,” Goss said.

He also expressed concerns about audio recorded after the shooting, in which a man in a police helicopter is heard saying Crutcher looked like “one bad dude,” the newspaper reports.

Police said they wanted to show the video to the family and community first.

“We wanted them to see it before it was released so they wouldn’t be blindsided by it,” Tulsa Police Sergeant Shane Tuell said. “We wanted to be able to have that intimate time with them, with their attorney, to see if they had any questions or concerns.”


2. Her Attorney Says Shelby Thought Crutcher Was on PCP & Claims He Reached Into the SUV Before He Was Shot

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Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby. (Tulsa Police Department)

Shelby has been placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting is investigated.

She gave a statement to homicide detectives on Monday, the New York Times reports.

Her attorney, Scott Wood, told the Times that Shelby thought Crutcher had a weapon. He also said Crutcher “had acted erratically, refused to comply with several orders, tried to put his hand in his pocket and reached inside his car window before he was shot.”

Wood told the Tulsa World the incident began about two minutes before the dashcam video started. Shelby was the first officer on the scene, coming upon Crutcher’s broken down SUV, and called for backup. Her dashcam did not record video, according to police. The video begins when backup arrives.

Wood told the newspaper Crutcher was not with his SUV when she arrived, “so she isn’t really sure what’s going on.”

The attorney told the Tulsa World that Crutcher ignored the officer’s commands several times and didn’t answer her questions and reached for his pockets several times despite Shelby telling him not to.

Wood said that Shelby, based on drug-recognition training, believed Crutcher was acting erratically because he was under the influence of PCP.

Tulsa Police told KOKI-TV that a vial of PCP was found in Crutcher’s SUV after the shooting. Autopsy and toxicology results have not yet been released.

Attorneys for Crutcher’s family have said the PCP is not a justification for the shooting. They also argue that Crutcher could not have been reaching into his SUV, because the window was closed.

Wood said Shelby fired her gun at the same time as the other officer deployed his Taser, because they both perceived a threat.

“He has his hands up and is facing the car and looks at Shelby, and his left hand goes through the car window, and that’s when she fired her shot,” Wood said.

Video footage appears to show that the window was not open.

“Every situation is different. Officers are involved in typically fast-moving situations, and officers who choose to use force, base (those decisions) on the situation involved that they are facing,” police spokesperson Jeanne MacKenzie told the AP.

The U.S Justice Department has also launched a parallel civil rights investigation.

“I want to assure our community, and I want to assure all of you and people across the nation who are going to be looking at this, we will achieve justice, period,” Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said at a press conference, adding that the videos are “very disturbing” and “difficult” to watch.

Protesters gathered at the Tulsa County Courthouse on Monday to call for justice, holding signs with phrases including #BlackLivesMatter and “Didn’t have to kill him,” KTUL-TV reports.

Community leaders who watched the video on Sunday expressed shock and outrage about what they saw, but called for a calm reaction when it is made public. Pleas Thompson, the head of the local NAACP, asked for residents to be “level-headed” after seeing the footage, according to the Tulsa World.

“I think the justice system will work here in Tulsa, because we’ve seen it work before,” Thompson said, making a reference to the case of Tulsa County reserve deputy Robert Bates, who was found guilty of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a black man last year. He was sentenced to four years in prison earlier this year.

Morning Star Baptist Church Pastor Rodney Goss said he expects public outrage, and said the focus should be on changing things going forward.

“It’s difficult to tell your people that it’s OK because the police department has it under control, when the police department in the eyes of much of the community are the proprietors of such an event,” Goss told the Tulsa World.

“The only thing you can attempt to do is be the voice of reason and put something in place that will help your people vent, and that is safe and in a practical way that will hopefully help them deal with a situation that is very painful for the African-American community. I’m pushing for not only a march or a meeting, I’m pushing for a seat at the table,where we can affect change in the policies and the culture of the police versus the community,” he said.


3. Her Husband Is Also a Tulsa Cop & Was in the Helicopter at the Time of the Shooting

betty shelby

Officer Betty Shelby received flowers from citizens after she assisted them following a burglary. (Tulsa Police/Facebook)

Shelby was hired by the Tulsa Police Department in 2011 after working for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office from June 2007 to November 2011, according to the police department.

She resigned from her position to join the Tulsa department.

According to the news station, Shelby wrote in her resignation letter she would be “honored and grateful” to work for the sheriff’s office in the future.

A police spokesman told the Tulsa World that Shelby’s husband, Dave Shelby, who is also a Tulsa police officer, was in the helicopter at the time of the shooting “by happenstance.”

It was not her husband that made the comment about Crutcher being a “bad dude.” The other officer in the helicopter hasn’t been identified.

Shelby’s mother-in-law, Lois Shelby, told the Associated Press that Betty Shelby is grieving for the victim’s family and is not prejudiced.

Lois Shelby told the AP her daughter-in-law, “thought she had to protect her own life,” when she fired the fatal shot.

She added that Betty Shelby has always wanted to be a police officer.


4. She Has Been Accused of Excessive Force Twice in Her Career

Shelby has been accused of using excessive force twice during her career, KOTV reports.

Both of those complaints were determined to be unfounded, the news station reports. Details of those cases were not immediately available.

Her personnel file also shows that she is a field training officer, meaning she works to train rookie officers.

She has also received four letters of commendation and an Oklahoma meritorious service award, according to KOTV.

Shelby was born in Poteau, Oklahoma, and graduated from Mannford High School in 1992, before studying biology at Northeastern State University, according to personnel files obtained by KJRH-TV.

Shelby was briefly a member of the Oklahoma Air National Guard, from May 2000 to October 2000, as a trainee, but left after injuring her knee.

According to KJRH, she checked yes to the question of whether she’d “ever possessed or used illegal drugs,” on her application for the sheriff’s office, and also checked yes when asked if she had ever had a “victim protection order filed against you, or any action pending.”

She wrote in the job application that she had been involved in two domestic violence cases in her personal life.

The first was in 1993, when she and her former boyfriend damaged each other’s cars during a break-up. Temporary restraining orders were filed to keep them separated, but were later dismissed.

She wrote that in 2002 her ex-husband’s wife filed a protective order against her, claiming she was making harassing phone calls to her. Shelby said in the application that the order was denied when it went to court, “the Judge saw that I was not guilty of the accusations made against me.”

You can read the full application here.

She also says she worked as a teacher’s assistant at a Tulsa school from 2001 to 2002.

In 2004, prior to becoming a police officer, Shelby spoke at a “Pro America Rally” at a Tulsa high school, according to a Tulsa World article from the time.

She led the Pledge of Allegiance, and spoke about her husband, fellow Tulsa Police Officer Dave Shelby, who was deployed to Iraq at the time.


5. Crutcher Was a Father of 4 Children Who Was Studying at a Local Community College

(Facebook)

(Facebook)

Terence Crutcher was the father of four children, the Washington Post reports. His family says his SUV stalled as he headed home from class at Tulsa Community College, where he had been studying music appreciation.

Crutcher was also involved in his church, including singing in the choir, according to the Tulsa World.

His pastor, Terry Shannon, told the newspaper it was a “blessing and a joy” to be Cructher’s pastor, saying he attended the church “faithfully” with his family for years.

“He sang in the choir,” Terry Shannon said. “He had a beautiful voice.”

His sister and other family members called for murder charges to be filed, and referenced the “bad dude” comment made in the helicopter video, saying Crutcher’s life mattered.

“We are truly devastated, the entire family is devastated,” said Tiffany Crutcher, Terence’s twin sister. “You all want to know who that big bad dude was? That big bad dude was my twin brother. That big bad dude was a father. That big bad dude was a son. That big bad dude was enrolled at Tulsa Community College. … That big bad dude loved God. That big bad dude was at church singing with all his flaws every week. That big bad dude, that’s who he was.”

457 Comments

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457 Comments

Lewis Hardin

She was first on the scene alone. Crutcher came out of the woods. His car was in the middle of the street blocking both lanes,running. Two 911 calls were received about the car both saying the driver is outside the vehicle yelling its going to blow. She began asking if this was his vehicle. He wouldn’t answer but put his hand in his pocket She told him get your out of your pocket where I can see them. Again she tried to communicate to no avail.She is a trained drug recognition officer and determined he was under the influence of something.(autopsy report released today he had PCP in his system,guess she was right huh”) He put his hand in his pocket again and she told him get your hands where I can see them. He then put his hands in the air and began walking toward his vehicle. She followed telling him to get on his knees and he ignored her. A second officer arrives and takes out his tazer. Once he reaches his car Crutcher lowers his hands and with his left hand reaches into the vehicle. Officer Shelby fired one shot. The Supreme Court has ruled in prior cases of officer shootings that if the suspect is actively resisting arrest and attempting to flee the scene and their actions lead the officer to believe the suspect if allowed to leave is a danger to other officers or the public lethal force is justified.The officer does not have to see a weapon. Garner v T ennessee,Graham v Conner, Loch v City of Litchfield.

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R Castillo

“Window was closed.” Cannot be reaching into vehicle…
While he was not following directions and was on some type of drug(s); this incident, without reservation by demonstration, an individual was shot prematurely…if deceased made ANY attempt to lunge, attack, move in the direction of the officer-a shooting would be justified. In this video, it was /is NOT! Officer deserves 99 to life in the pen.

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Arthur Russell

No where in that video can you see if the window is closed or opened. BS! From the chopper it looked like he did reach into the window. He had his hand in his pocked at the very beginning of the video just as she said he did.

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DAVID

ON PCP YOU DONT NO HOW TO RESPOND , JUST GET TO SUV HE WAS YELLING ON FIRE IT WAS NOT HE WAS CRAZY ON DOPE ,VERY CAPABLE OF HARMING ANYONE ,HE NEEDED SHOT OR HER LIFE WAS NEXT HE WAS GUILTY OF DRUGS IN CAR ,HE WAS GUILTY OF NOT OBEYING COMMANDS , HE WOULD BE ALIVE TODAY IF HE WOULD LISTEN TO TRAINED OFFICER , DRUGS WONT LET YOU LISTEN HE THOUGHT HE WAS GOD , I DONT HAVE TO OBEY ANYBODY DRUGS KILLED HIM , NOT BETTY SHELBY , NOT GUILTY DOING HER JOB PROTECTING CITIZENS IN THE WAY OF A MANAIC ON THE LOOSE SHE DID HER JOB 100% GET THE DRUG ADDICT OFF THE STREETS BEFORE HE KILLS YOU BETTY SHELBY NOT GUILTY ACTING AS A OFFICER OF THE LAW , DONT THE CRUTCHER FAMILY ,JUST THIN IF HE LISTENED ,HE WOULD BE ALIVE TODAY

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Mike

Ok inch high private eye, what was he resisting arrest for? I think you should get a better understanding of case law. Being high does not mean the death penalty. And yes I was a police officer.

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joseph morehead

Another racist trying to justify the murder of an unarmed black man

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Wyatt Williams

Officer Betty Shelby of the Tulsa Police Department should get life in prison for murder.

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Anonymous

yes, send her to prison…no gun seen and no gun found at seen and she shoots him because she thought he had a gun; REALLY?…what next…

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Anonymous

…true…he should had just stopped…but that does not warrant him being shot and killed. Cops are on a ego rampage. I’d love to get a cop without his badge adn gun and see how tough they think they are. Next time you are out getting donuts and you are pulled over, you better listen to the nazi police officer because you’ll probably get shot for reaching for the glaze donut in your bag. I say, REVOLUTION. Citizens against the cops who shouldn’t be cops

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Anonymous

Listen to all this, judge not. NOPE nobody gets it. We all ARE GOING to get it, because of judging

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JP

Why do they not mention anything about the history of Mr. Crutcher. No mention of no arrests or even of arrests and/or jail time history; although, they go all the way into the police officer’s history. This is slanted reporting. They should mention both sides. They didn’t even mention her as mother and grandmother and whether or not she goes to church and anything socially about her.

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Bill Meeker

The message is again repeated in this case and it goes like this: regardless of what your parents taught you, race DOES matter today and in a big way. If you are Caucasian and wish to serve your country, do it by joining the military or a fire department. If you chose to serve as a police officer anywhere in the country you are risking having your life either ended by a thug for following protocol or ruined in a case like this and others. It isn’t worth the risk.

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R Castillo

After watching the video, I found where the “Window was closed.”
The deceased COULD NOT be “reaching into his vehicle.”
He deceased was shot prematurely at the hands of a nervous, agitated, officer-without sufficient evidence of him attempting to lunge, attack, show of weapon or force requiring this officer to shoot him.
Officer deserves 99 in the pen.

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ronald e nelson

i see they posted a photo of Shelby receiving flowers from two black people I guess they want us to believe she didn’t kill him because he black see black people like me and I like them what a lame ploy by heavy

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anonymous

Most common civilians just have no clue about police officers’ authority and responsibilities. When a shooting such as this occurs, they react emotionally and make hysterical demands without understanding the laws applying to the situation. Citizens arm our cops and send them out to stand in harm’s way. They expect them to protect us and defend themselves and when they actually have to do that, they get outraged and riot in the street even tho they actually don’t understand the law. Cops are totally authorized to use deadly force in any event in which they (or other innocents) are threatened by someone using force or means capable of causing serious bodily harm or death, and no lesser means are available or likely to immediately stop the threat. They are also charged with preventing any person from escaping their custody if that person poses an imminent threat to innocent people. Officer Shelby recognized Crutcher was high on drugs, rightly suspected PCP, and she was duty-bound to stop him from driving his two-ton SUV in that dangerous condition. Since he was much larger than she was and most less-lethal tools usually fail to stop Dusters, she had to shoot him because no lesser means were available or likely to prevent him from escaping her custody and driving away. Those who might argue that her backup officer had a Taser, please familiarize yourself with the many YouTube videos of Dusters (even small ones) being Tasered without effect. Officer Shelby gave Crutcher every opportunity to stop and drop and he refused. She gave him verbal commands to stop right up until the very last moment she had to stop him, then she fired. He was reaching for his SUV door and she had every reason to suspect there might have been a weapon hidden in the truck (there wasn’t, but there was PCP and Crutcher’s postmortem proved he was Dusted, so she was right). Officer Shelby’s trial will be held in May2017. She is charged with manslaughter and will be exonerated in accordance with the law. She was 100% correct to shoot Crutcher to stop him and her trial will show that.

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Juliann

That was very well explained- I just hope people will not be so prejudiced against our police- that they won’t even read your explanation!!

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Prayinmantiz

you my friend are very crazy if you think what you typed is legit.

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The red king

This article is a joke. Full of fake news and erroneous reporting. The car was running. The window was down (you won’t know that til trial) Shelby followed protocol and could have shot him sooner than she did. She will be exonerated. This is just another crock of shit like the Michael Brown case. Crutcher’s was no father either. He didn’t even have custody of his kids because his own father couldn’t stand him and his drug and criminal lifestyle. All facts. I can’t wait until this trial is over to laugh at all the idiots who think they know something about the case to be proven completely wrong…. Again…

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DAVID

he did not respond to commands from the officer ,he was going for the car to leave , to hide the pcp , he would be alive today if hr would have responded to the officers commands ,when your on pcp you think your king kong , afraid of nothing or nobody, she did not no how to act , with him not responding ,like the officer was not there, 3 other people turned him in while stalled yelling his suv was on fire ,no it was not it was running, 2 other people stopped to help got scared left the scared to help an called 911 , he was not responding to officer at all ignored her , if he would have obeyed rules from a trained officer , HE WOULD BE HERE TODAY PCP , YOU CANT THINK RIGHT YOU THINK YOUR BULLET PROOF, AN KING KONG DRUGS HE WAS ON MADE HIM GET SHOT, NOT GUILITY WHEN A OFFICER COMMANDS ACT AN YOU LIVE ,DONT DO TO DRUGS YOU TAKE YOUR LIFE IN YOUR OWN HAND S

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Anonymous

Once again another saint gets killed by a police officer. Member of the church choir…hooked on PCP. People STOP protecting stupidity, ignorance, and criminals.

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Anonymous

Not guilty. As should be based on all evidence and what police officers are trained to do. This is the real world, not TV. She had a fair jury, mixed genders, and mixed races.

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