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Protests In Tulsa After Crutcher's Death; Family Disputes Police Account

Pastor Jennettie Marshall, of Living Sanctuary Evangelistic Ministries, speaks at a "protest for justice" over Friday's shooting death of Terence Crutcher, sponsored by We the People Oklahoma, in Tulsa, Okla., Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016.
Sue Ogrocki
Pastor Jennettie Marshall, of Living Sanctuary Evangelistic Ministries, speaks at a "protest for justice" over Friday's shooting death of Terence Crutcher, sponsored by We the People Oklahoma, in Tulsa on Tuesday.

Gov. Mary Fallin is urging Tulsa residents to remain calm as authorities investigate a white police officer's fatal shooting of an unarmed black man.

Demonstrators gathered in Tulsa Tuesday night near the spot where a police officer fatally shot Terence Crutcher on Friday, and marched a short distance to the Department's Gilcrease Division station.

During a protest earlier in the day at the downtown headquarters of the Tulsa Police, Living Sancutary Evangelistic Ministries Pastor Jennettie Marshall described a divided community.

"There's been two Tulsas, sometimes three Tulsas,” Marshall said. “And sometimes we haven't even mattered. It's been as if we haven't been there."

Other members of the crowd described their experiences with the justice system and instances of racism. Eric Reynolds told The Tulsa World’s Paris Burris he’s frustrated because Crutcher died while he appeared to be going about his normal routine:

Reynolds also voiced his concerns about the conversations surrounding what Crutcher should or shouldn't have done in the moments before he was shot. "I'm tired of hearing what the black community needs to do and this and that — but he was doing that, and he's still dead," Reynolds said. "Let's talk about that. Reynolds said he's driven down 36th Street North, the road where Crutcher was shot, countless times while he's lived near the area. "It could have been me (whose car) broke down," he said. "It could be me that's dead."

Tulsa police confirmed Tuesday officers found a vial of the drug PCP in Crutcher's vehicle after he was shot to death by a white police officer. Mayor Dewey Bartlett told NPR's Morning Edition that information is not relevant to the investigation into what happened Friday evening.

"When we first had a meeting with the family, our police chief told the family at that time that PCP had been found, but that the police department was not going to be the instigating delivery of that information to the public,” Bartlett said. “The attorneys for the family apparently asked that question in a public way of the police, and so they had to respond honestly."

Bartlett says officers will be questioned about what took place before, during, and after the shooting that wasn’t captured on recordings of police radio traffic.

“What orders had been given to Mr. Crutcher, for example. What might have led to a mindset of the police at that time,” Bartlett said.

Attorneys for Crutcher’s family say they have evidence that should make clear who's at fault in the shooting. They’re disputing Officer Betty Shelby's key claim that she fired when Crutcher reached into his SUV.

Lawyers had an expert enhance Tulsa Police footage of the shooting. At a news conference, national civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump produced a poster-sized still frame that showed Terence Crutcher bleeding on the ground.

The driver's side door was visible, and Crump focused on the window Crutcher allegedly reached in to when Officer Betty Shelby fired the fatal shot. 

“It is completely up and there is blood going almost to the top of the window,” Crump said.

Crump has represented the family of Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman in 2012, and Michael Brown, the man fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014.

Crump and other attorneys presented their findings to the Tulsa County District Attorney. Protesters are calling for Shelby's arrest. She's on paid leave while the shooting is investigated.

Shelby’s mother-in-law says her daughter-in-law is grieving for the victim's family and isn't prejudiced.

Lois Shelby told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday Betty Shelby ``thought she had to protect her own life'' when she fatally shot Crutcher last week.

Lois Shelby, a retired schoolteacher, says Betty Shelby always wanted to become a police officer.

Betty Shelby declined to comment to The Associated Press on Tuesday and referred all calls to her attorney.

During her time in the Tulsa Police Department, Shelby faced no disciplinary actions, and records show she only used force in one instance during four years working for the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office. She joined the city police force in 2011. According to Tulsa County Deputy Justin Green, Shelby's use of force incident happened when she was serving a warrant on a suspect in 2010.

The report says Shelby and other deputies drew their weapons - but did not fire them - as they searched for the suspect.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.
Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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