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Officer Betty Shelby Found Not Guilty In Shooting Death Of Terence Crutcher

Betty Shelby leaves the courtroom with her husband, Dave Shelby, right, after the jury in her case began deliberations in Tulsa, Okla., Wednesday, May 17, 2017.
Betty Shelby leaves the courtroom with her husband, Dave Shelby, right, after the jury in her case began deliberations in Tulsa, Okla., Wednesday, May 17, 2017.

Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby was found not guilty Wednesday night in the shooting death Terence Crutcher.

Jurors deliberated for more than 9 hours Wednesday before reaching their decision.

The Tulsa World’s Samantha Vincent reports jurors became emotional after they delivered the verdict, and some began to cry.

Shelby and her defense attorneys did not address the media after the verdict was read and immediately left the courtroom.

From the Tulsa World:

Before the verdict was read, District Judge Doug Drummond told a packed courtroom: "I'm asking you to trust the system." Drummond also said: "This jury has worked very hard to come to a result. This was a very difficult case with lots of difficult issues."

Shelby faced first-degree manslaughter charges in the death of Crutcher, a black man who was unarmed at the time he was shot. Shelby, who is white, said she fired her weapon out of fear because Crutcher did not obey her commands to get on the ground and appeared to reach into his vehicle. She said she believed Crutcher was under the influence of PCP at the time. An autopsy found PCP in Crutcher’s system, and a vial of the drug was discovered in Crutcher’s car.

During the trial, prosecutors argued Shelby overreacted. They said Crutcher wasn’t combative, and that dashboard and helicopter videos showed Crutcher walking away from Shelby toward his vehicle with his hands in the air. Shelby’s defense attorney said in the moments before the videos began filming, Shelby repeatedly ordered Crutcher to lie on the ground.

Some people were upset when they left the courtroom, according to The Tulsa World’s Samantha Vincent:

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!" Outside the courthouse, about 40 to 50 Crutcher supporters erupted in chants of “no justice, no peace” as word of the verdict was announced.

Gov. Mary Fallin issued a statement following Wednesday’s verdict:

“I ask Oklahomans to respect our criminal justice system and especially the jurors, who heard the evidence from both sides in this case. Those who disagree with the verdict have the right to express their opinions; I just ask that they do so in a peaceful manner. I appeal to Tulsans and others to remain calm. Our thoughts and prayers should be with the Terence Crutcher and Betty Shelby families during this difficult time,” Fallin wrote.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said he would  hold a press conference on Thursday, and released a written statement:

“After considering days of testimony and undergoing its own deliberation, the jury has spoken. I appreciate the jurors’ service to our community and respect their verdict. But this verdict does not alter the course on which we are adamantly set. It does not change our recognition of the racial disparities that have afflicted Tulsa historically. It does not change our work to institute community policing measures that empower citizens to work side by side with police officers in making our community safer. And no one has been calling for the resources to implement community policing more actively over a longer period of time than the men and women of our Tulsa Police Department. So we are moving forward together – Tulsans from all parts of the city, police officers and everyday citizens – with a unified purpose to make this a better place for all of us.”

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Jacob McCleland spent nine years as a reporter and host at public radio station KRCU in Cape Girardeau, Mo. His stories have appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, Here & Now, Harvest Public Media and PRI’s The World. Jacob has reported on floods, disappearing languages, crop duster pilots, anvil shooters, Manuel Noriega, mule jumps and more.
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